The Cannon River runs from southeastern Minnesota into the Mississippi River. Early American settlers were drawn to the area as they could harness power from the river to run mills — from flour to textile. The area is made up of beautiful hills of corn and soybean farms along the valley just tall enough to be enchanting and make for an arresting landscape, yet no cliffs so great as to cause a pit in your stomach.
Milling became the Cannon River Valley’s foremost industry, and the area became a center for innovation. Today, Malt-O-Meal in Northfield and Faribault Woolen Mill in Faribault, maintain flour and textile mills in their respective towns of origin.
Today, Faribault and Northfield remain thriving, quaint towns with strong historic roots, surrounded by rich farmland and the flowing Cannon River, just an hour out from the Twin Cities.
Faribault (Pronounced “Fair-boh”)
Faribault Woolen Mill was founded on the banks of Faribault, Minn. in 1865. World renowned for quality blankets and throws, the mill endures as one of the last vertical woolen mills in America.
Fifth generation craftspeople continue to dedicate themselves to creating beautiful wool goods with century-old methods and machinery. The company’s flagship store is onsite at their Faribault headquarters. It’s beautifully curated with an entire section of discounted excess or compromised materials. We snagged a beautiful U.S. Navy blanket that was majorly marked down because of an extra blue dot, hardly visible to the eye!
While here, be sure to stop for a flat white and a delectable pastry at the Bluebird Cakery. Another must for the area is a cup of Minnesota wild rice soup at The Warehouse A, particularly as the seasons turn cold!
Northfield, Minn. has the charm and appearance of an old European city. Built right along the Cannon River with cobblestone pathways marking either side, much of the architecture from the late 19th and early 20th centuries is well preserved. Thriving Division Street is the main street which runs through the town, and it divides the city between the two college campuses to either side of the city — Carleton College and St. Olaf College.
Enjoy live music and spiked apple cider at the autumn Saturday farmers market in the square at the heart of town, or grab a drink on the river at Froggy Bottoms or The Tavern. Northfield has a helpful tourism site here.
One shop in Northfield that is a must-visit is MakeShift Accessories.
MakeShift is making jewelry pieces from industrial parts, and making unique, up-cycled treasures and trinkets in the process.
Last but not least, a historic defeat of Jesse James took place here in Northfield on Sept. 7, 1876 at roughly 2:00 p.m. Since then, a festival honoring those who protected the banks — some of whom lost their lives doing so — known as the Defeat of Jesse James Days has taken place the weekend after Labor Day each year.