Dresbach is part old river town and part new suburban community with few attractions for visitors.
The Interstate 90 rest area near Dresbach has a stock of brochures for the local area, as well as the entire state of Minnesota.
Ashel Pearse built a log cabin in 1833, one of many French settlers who worked out a deal with Native Americans to live here for a while. The town got its name from one George B. Dresbach, Sr., an Ohio native who, in 1857, bought the earlier claims and invested $50,000 of his own cash to start a village. Mr. Dresbach was a busy man; he started a quarry and a brickyard and served in the Minnesota House of Representatives. The village platting kick-started some interest in development: in 1857 eleven houses were built and the town got its first general store and post office. Dresbach’s effort to develop a bustling town, however, was never the success he hoped; he lost most of his money in the process and died with little material wealth. Dresbach the village puttered on, boasting 175 residents in 1910, getting an economic boost from the construction of Lock and Dam 7 in the 1930s. Dresbach took a big hit from the construction of Interstate 90 a few decades later. The village lost many of its buildings and a big chunk of its (small) population; even the graves of George Dresbach and family had to be moved to a new cemetery. Dresbach today is a bedroom community with a few impressive houses along the river and a few modest homes in the older part of town.
Random Fact: George Dresbach’s brother was one of the first lion tamers for the P.T. Barnum circus.
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Lock and Dam 7 (507.895.2170) was completed in 1935 and underwent a major overhaul from 1989 to 2002. The lock has a maximum lift of nine feet; the dam is 940 feet long. There is a small visitor center that presents the Corps’ history of managing the river for navigation, and a viewing platform to watch boats locking through.
Hidden below Riverview Drive, Dresbach Park (Old Mill Rd. @ Mulder Rd.) is a small riverfront park with a couple of picnic tables, a playground, and a nice view of the river.
Getting on the River
The Best Dam Fishing Float (608.484.1656; daily 7a–5p) is one way to get on the river without a boat. Raise the red flag at the boat ramp below Lock and Dam 7, and they’ll send a small boat to pick you up, so you can spend the day fishing from their platform in the river; bring a fishing license.
Heading upriver? Check out Dakota.
Heading downriver? Check out La Crescent.
© Dean Klinkenberg, 2011