Hastings prides itself on being a Rivertown, and that will be evident when they celebrate Rivertown Days this month on the weekend of the 21st.
Hastings is a town of rivers, born and raised near the confluence of the St. Croix and the Mississippi and powered at one time by the Vermillion River Falls. History tells us that among the first settlers in the area were a military detachment sent down river form Fort Snelling to guard a shipment of blocked supplies in 1820. There was at that encampment an officer known as Lt. William G. Oliver. He camped in an area that would become known as Oliver’s Grove, and by 1833 a trading post was established there. Following the signing of the Treaty of Mendota in 1851 and an earlier treaty known as the Treaty of Traverse des Sioux, the area was opened for settlement. In 1857 and a year before Minnesota would become a state, Oliver’s Grove was surveyed and incorporated in to the city we know today as Hastings.
Like so many of the towns along our beloved northern rivers, it is the river that brings settlement and development to Hastings. Blessed with water power form the Vermillion River Falls, Hastings becomes a milling and shipping center for the area. A natural deep water harbor allows for the steamboat traffic that will bring goods—-and settlers. The employment opportunities and rich farmland surrounding Hastings create an additional draw to immigrants in search of a better life, and a city is born.
Hastings, a City of Bridges
Hastings could also be known as a city of bridges. Not surprisingly, cities on rivers become cities with bridges. Historically, Hastings has always handled its bridge work with a little flare. There is the Covered Bridge that built to the south of town. The famous and unique spiral bridge entering the downtown from the north, and Minnesota’s first iron swing bridge. Even the beautiful new bridge that carries travelers into Hastings today is true to Hastings form. Not only was it the longest free standing tied arch bridge in North America, but sections of it were floated into place using “river power”.
Hastings isn’t just a town that grew up on the banks of the river. Hastings is a town that has used the river from the beginning to fuel their growth and make life better for the people who live there. Hastings is also the home to Lock and Dam No. 2, built by the Army Corps of Engineers in 1930. Today, Lock and Dam No. 2 is also the site of the Nation’s first commercial and federally licensed hydrokinetic power facility.
Hastings, for the Boater
Those who have had the opportunity to boat around the Hastings area know it for its beauty, the eagles that are regularly seen in congregation there, and for the work ‘city Fathers’ (and Mothers I am sure) have done to keep the feeling of days gone by preserving their historic downtown area. Hastings is served by several fine Marinas like King’s Cove and Hub’s Landing. There is also a public dock on the Mississippi just west of Hwy 61. Hastings is also home to Erickson Marine, one of the few boat dealers in our area that can boast of 50 years in continuous operation. Whether you head to Hastings for Rivertown Days or pick any other day Hastings is a city that can offer shopping, restaurants, attractions, or just a great place to stretch your legs for a bit. One thing you’ll notice right away about Hastings—the people are as charming as the city itself.