A small community along the Great River Road but not directly on the Mississippi River, Royalton was probably founded in the 1850s by the Reverend Rudolphus Kinney, a missionary from Royalton, Vermont who came to the area to convert Native Americans to Christianity. Father Pierz (see Belle Prairie) founded Holy Cross Church in 1864 but the village saw little action until the railroad came through in 1877. The village got a sawmill in 1879 and became a major player in the produce trade. The horse track on the south end of town was such a major draw that the sawmill would shut down for a few hours so the workers could enjoy the races. Royalton today is a small community on a busy highway (US 10).
The village of North Prairie was founded around 1864 and was first known as “German Settlement”; with early settlers that included Peter Schnitt, John Burggraff, Matt and Nick Klein, it’s easy to understand why. The name North Prairie was adopted around 1872 and comes from the fact that the village is located just north of the Winnebago Prairie. For many years, residents could cross the Mississippi River on a ferry to reach the bigger town of Royalton.
Exploring the Area
The community of Royalton maintains a few exhibits on its history in the City Center building.
Next stop downriver: Rice and Watab.
Next stop upriver: Little Falls.
© Dean Klinkenberg, 2015