Two hundred years before the Sioux ceded their land to the American government, the explorers, fur traders, and missionaries who came to this region found what the Native Americans had long treasured for it’s beauty and sustenance. The exploration of the Lake City area by Europeans is believed to date to 1654 when the French explorers Radisson and Grosseilliers came to the area. These explorers lived for a time with the Native Americans and engaged in the fur trade.
In 1823, the Virginian was the first steamboat to venture up the Mississippi River. In 1853, Jacob Broody was the first white settler in the area and a year later, ex-President Millard Fillmore led the Grand Excursion which brought a flotilla of boats up the Mississippi to this area. Lake City grew rapidly since early settlers could see the potential of the area’s lush soil and the natural beauty of Lake Pepin. The steamboat St. Paul is shown at the Washington Street landing c. 1890.
By the late 1880’s, there was a very active historical society in the Lake City area called the Old Settlers Association. Many of the original members of the community belonged to this association which in the 1930’s evolved into the Lake Pepin Valley Historical Society. Many of the artifacts from these organizations were transferred to the Lake City Historical Society when it was formed in 1986. The mission of the Lake City Historical Society is to collect, preserve and disseminate the history of Lake City, Minnesota.
The Lake City Historical Society meets at 2pm on the 4th Tuesday of each month in the 2nd floor conference room of the Lake City City Hall.