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On The Road: Rushford

RUSHFORD, Minn. (KTTC) – If you’re looking for a place bursting with color but off the beaten path, look no further than Rushford, Minnesota.

Located off Interstate 90 near the Root River in the boot of Minnesota, Rushford offers a stress-free weekend for those wanting to get away.

The view of Rushford from Magelssen Bluff Park

But before you head downtown, you’ll want to visit Magelssen Bluff Park, home to a roughly 200-year-old Burr Oak tree, the fifth largest in the state.

Further along the bluff is a site that’ll make anyone’s eyes widen in amazement. Stunning views span for miles, making the cars below look like ants and the lush green fields around them like a vibrant painting.

But this isn’t the only charm of Rushford. After you’ve taken in the sights from above, you can head downtown to get a bite to eat at the one and only Stumpy’s Restaurant.

“We got a whole slew of things under appetizers here,” said new waitress Lindsey to a table of hungry customers.

Stumpy’s Restaurant in downtown Rushford

Built in the mid 1970s, Stumpy’s Restaurant is a local hangout. “We get a lot of locals. They show up everyday, some three times a day,” said current owner Judy Christian. Named for its former owner, Stumpy’s is an eclectic place (if you couldn’t tell by the shelves lined with toy trucks and motorcycles).

“Everybody’s always walking around looking at them. Little kids get upset when they can’t play with that toy,” added Christian.

She remembers a time when it wasn’t so happy in Stumpy’s. Remember the historic 2007 flood? Up to 15 inches of rain fell in parts of southeastern Minnesota within 24 hours causing mud slides and flash flooding that killed seven people.

Damage costs exceeded $200 million dollars and Stumpy’s needed some major work.

“It flooded up to the chairs over there, the seats of the chairs. We had to throw everything outside on the curb and we had piles and piles.”

KTTC archive video from August 2007 shows the flooding in southeastern Minnesota

The cleanup took weeks, even prompting a visit from then Governor Tim Pawlenty.

“Everybody came together and helped. We had a sign that said ‘never give up.’ People did not give up.”

Because of that relentless spirit, Stumpy’s was up and running within a couple of months. Nearly 12 years later it’s bustling with customers.

When you’re done eating and decided to head back out in the afternoon heat, you may want to learn about the town’s history, and who better to ask than Anne Spartz, President of the Rushford Area Historical Society.

“It started out as a town that had a lot of bars and churches,” said Spartz.

Anne Spartz is the President of the Rushford Area Historical Society

White settlers came to town in 1853, naming it Rushford a year later. “They ended up with Rushford because of rush creek and you had to ford the river to get across and the rushes along the creek.”

It stayed the same for a couple years but drastically changed when the railroad came to town. “It definitely brought food, people, and commerce.”

The Root River State Trail that runs in front of the original depot used to be railroad tracks until the 1980s. The depot was built in 1867 and is on the National Register of Historic Buildings.

“It started out as a one-story depot and they added the second story years later to put in housing for the depot agent and his family.”

Now a visitor center, it’s a great place to peruse documents from the town to learn about life in Rushford.

Rushford’s charm almost speaks for itself, but if there’s a lull in your summer plans this is a great place to check out. All you need to do is go on the road.

This is also a great weekend to head to Rushford as the annual Rushford Days is underway. To view a full list of Rushford Days activities happening Saturday and Sunday, click here.

Shannon Rousseau

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