Founded in 1867 amid a winding National Scenic Byway, the community of Peterson has a proud legacy and a bright future as a bicycling and fishing hub in the Rushford Peterson Valley. Situated on the number one ranked trail in Minnesota, The Root River Valley State Bike Trail, the town was one of two Fillmore County towns chosen for the popular 2014 Bicycle Around Minnesota tour for its rolling bluffs, serene valleys, and breath-taking prairies.
For anglers, the watershed is prime trout water, with 12 designated area trout streams, as well as high-quality smallmouth bass streams. A contributing factor to the preservation of these waters is the private organizations and the Department of Natural Resources Peterson Fish Hatchery. The hatchery relies on the crisp, clear water to produce 100,000 to 130,000 trout annually for Minnesota. Self-guided and educational tours of the hatchery are available. A Natural Resources boat landing and launch sits tucked near the base of the bridge crossing into Peterson.
Crossing the bridge from the byway, the quaint town opens up before you, tree-lined and like days gone by. The town has a rich history, including as the former site of the Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul Railroad Depot, built in 1877. It has since been restored and converted to the Peterson Station Museum & Tourist Center. Inside, visitors will discover interesting local memorabilia, art, artifacts, and photographs of events and points of interest. For those of Norwegian decent, the museum also has a comprehensive genealogy center, as part of their new annex.
During June’s Gammel Dag celebration, the town offers everyone the chance to be Norwegian for a day. Norwegian artisans demonstrate their talents, as visitors enjoy folk dancing and authentic Scandinavian foods, a 25-mile tractor ride, storytelling, music and dancing, and a grand parade. In September, a Taste of the Trail presents a taste of farm life and wildlife, including live animal displays, artisan vendors, and a scrumptious taste of foods from the community. Welcoming the holiday season, Christmas in Peterson, a festival of seasonal displays, art, music, and food, is held the second Saturday of December.
The town’s city park is home to a restored bandstand that hosts a summer concert series. Down the street, another park rests atop a sloping hillside and offers softball fields, a playground, volleyball court, horseshoe pits, and large pavilion. In the heart of downtown, Veterans Park is less than a block from the trail, tucked in a grassy setting along with east side of the former 1875 and 1901 historic Quickstad Farm Implement Company buildings.Down the block, visitors will find artisan works of turned wood pens, and bowls, a place where you’ll also find art and craft items made by other local artisans.
To quench your thirst or appetite, Peterson offers ice cream, cold drinks, and snacks. Also you will find the Peterson American Legion, which is also an off-sale liquor store. A local café is famous for their homemade pies and creative and delicious menu options, at small town prices.
For unique lodging, across from Bandstand Park lies an historic inn, built in 1904 along the tracks of the Southern Minnesota Railroad and a B&B, located at the original site of the 1877 Peterson Train Depot. A hotel near the museum offers units with fully stocked kitchens, and large living rooms. In additon to these lodging options, camping is available at the city RV park and includes full water, sewer, and electrical hook-ups at each site, as well as public restrooms.