Trempealeau is a Mississippi River village in the county of that name, located on high rolling banks at the river’s edge. It is a classic, picturesque river town.
The village is named for a nearby “mountain,” which French explorers called “la montagne qui trempe à l'eau,” meaning “the mountain whose foot is bathed in water.” It is 425 ft. high, residing between the Trempealeau and Mississippi rivers.
I confess I have not seen this mountain, and I know why. Trees blocked my view of it every time I rode through Perrot State Park. Mist correct this failing.
Josh Mayer has presented a marvelous photo and description of the Mountain. This is his photo. The mountain is a State Natural Area. There are three rock islands along the Mississippi, and this is one of them. The Only In Your State website offers more photos and descriptions of the mountain. The mountain is part of Perrot State Park. If you want to go to it, you’ll have to use a canoe or kayak.
The village is right on the Mississippi River. This is a monument to James Allen Reed. The Soldiers Walk Memorial Park website presents a very good description of this memorial. Reed was the first permanent non-native settler of Trempealeau, building a log house on the river in 1840. He has been referred to as “The Daniel Boone of Trempealeau. “ He was from Kentucky.
Each time I visit the village, I go to the Trempealeau Hotel, built in 1871. It is one of few survivors of the 1888 fire.
I have enjoyed lunch there several times. It has a lovely outdoor seating area to relax and watch the river go by.
I appreciate the way the village has preserved its buildings. I was there in March 2021, and the Expressions Salon & Boutique occupied this building downtown.
Built in 1888, this was unoccupied while I was there.
This is the W.C. Thomas Building, built in 1890. It was the home of Attorney Donald E. Hellrung when I visited. The Wisconsin Historical Society says,
“This building is significant because it is one of the most intact examples of a modest Victorian commercial building in the Main Street Historic District. Because it is largely unaltered, it possesses a high degree of integrity which helps give a sense of the district's appearance at the turn of the century.
“This building has housed numerous commercial activities, including a blacksmith shop and, in the twentieth century, a post office.
This is a most interesting building. It was constructed in 1895 and looked to be in great shape. It is the home of Wildwood Specialty Foods. The company does its manufacturing inside and sells its products to retailers and online. It has been operating since 1982. The c company says,
“The natural beauty of this area and the Wisconsin ‘foodie’ lifestyle have been inspiring forces for creating natural products that are deliciously quick and easy to make. Our Spices, Crisp Mixes, Dip Mixes, Classic Soup Mixes, and Creamy Soup Mixes are crafted to be fast and easy to prepare without sacrificing taste or nutrition. We are devoted to making truly flavorful products that will be loved and enjoyed by our customers.”
Facing the Mississippi is the Inn on the River. It has been operating for many years. Ownership changed in 2018, and the Inn has undergone many new updates.
The building to the left hosts the Driftless Bike N'Bean espresso and coffee café, with Ice Cream and a full-service bike shop. To the right is Muddy Waters “watering hole” just up the street a tad from the Mississippi.
I have given short shrift to Perrot State Park. I have driven through it several times but did not stop to look around. It is a 1,270-acre park. You can camp, kayak, and walk on several trails focused on Brady's Bluff. Some of these trails are challenging. The advantage of getting to the bluff is a stunning view of the Mississippi River Valley. The All Trails website provides an excellent introduction to six of the trails.
All in all, Trempealeau is small but a worthwhile trip, to be sure. It is charming and historic on the Mississippi, and you get an excellent opportunity to enjoy the outdoors.