Rochester, Minnesota  5/12 – 5/19

Rochester, Minnesota:  Population =  112,225 (metropolitan area= 213,873), elevation = 1030 feet, Average January low temp = 8º, Average July high temp = 84º, average rainfall = 33.08”, average snowfall = 53”

The journey from Wisconsin Dells to Rochester passes through the river bluffs near La Crosse, an area of woody, rocky beauty.  We enjoy the sculpted terrain as we roll along the Mighty Mississippi.  Too soon, we are back in the heartland where the farmers are preparing to plant the corn and soybeans that will blanket this largely flat landscape.

The Hadley Valley Schoolhouse was built in 1885
William Dee’s log cabin was built in Rochester in 1862

From its humble beginnings as a stagecoach stop between St. Paul and Dubuque, Rochester could have developed into just one of many similar small towns in Minnesota.  But then there was this doctor, William W. Mayo, who started here as the examining surgeon for draftees into the Civil War.  After the war, he built a successful private practice in Rochester.  In 1883 much of the city was demolished in a tornado and there was no facility to treat the wounded.  Together with his two sons, William and Charles, Mayo and the Sisters of St. Francis raised the money to build a new hospital: St. Marys.

William W. Mayo and Mother Alfred Moes
William W. Mayo with his two sons, William and Charles

The Mayos enlisted the best doctors they could find for the hospital and formed an integrated private group practice.  In 1919 they formed the Mayo Properties Association and become a non-profit.  As the practice grew, more buildings were added.  Downtown Rochester is now full of hospitals, clinics, research centers, and medical education buildings.  The Plummer building is one of the early buildings and it is beautifully decorated with art deco trim and carvings.

The grand entrance to the Plummer Building
Lobby of the Plummer Building

The renowned medical center draws people from all over the world.  Walking the streets, we hear foreign languages, see foreign clothing.  There seems to be a lot of ethnic restaurants around for such a small town.  But still, this is Minnesota, so there are some great Minnesotan breweries too.

We did not have much luck with the weather while we were in Rochester.  It was a grey, rainy week.  One afternoon downtown, a storm front with 60 MPH winds came through with a downpour, and watching it whip through the buildings was like seeing a horizontal waterfall.  On the dry days we were able to do a little sightseeing, get lost in a park, and visit lots of restaurants.

Looking toward the city from Silver Lake Park
Somewhere in the wilds of Quarry Hill Park. There are trails, but the signs hid from us.
It’s a Minnesota thing. I guess…
The most “Minnesota” poutine we have ever seen features slabs of meatloaf with lots of gravy
Dr. Plummer’s house is open for tours. But not on the day we were there.

Rochester is a nice city to visit, if you are in the area.  And you don’t even have to be sick.

Next up: Plymouth, Minnesota


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We are two recent retirees who decided to sell the house, pull up stakes, and explore North America. We are both being tourists and looking for the right blend of people, place, and geography that makes for the perfect place to retire.

5 thoughts on “Rochester, Minnesota  5/12 – 5/19”

  1. Too soon??!! Not for me. I’ve been looking forward to visiting family and friends and seeing the familiar. The blog was right on and nice, though. Just that last comment – nah.


    1. I agree this blog is right on! Rochester is a fun place! Daughter Shawn has enjoyed all the above & Bob &I have enjoyed some of it with her! So happy to have you back …just wish it wouldn’t be for such a short time!


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