Welcome to Cannon Falls! Whether you're here for a day's excursion or have recently moved to town, you'll find a wealth of delightful discoveries. Stunning natural beauty and year-round recreation. Gracious hosts, keeping small-town friendliness alive. All the basics of life and more, provided by people who greet you by name. Sophisticated technology and fine products are available here, but traffic is light, lines short. World-class theatre and medical care, colleges and pro sports are less than an hour away.
Our town is located at the junction of the Big Cannon and Little Cannon Rivers on the northern edge of Goodhue County, halfway between Minneapolis/St. Paul and Rochester. The cities of Hastings and Red Wing lie to the north and east, Northfield to the west. Nestled in a valley created by the joining of the two rivers, the beauty of the surrounding hills, woods, and streams can be enjoyed in every season.
Early French explorers stored canoes at the river, to hide them from the Mississippi River traffic, and they called it Riviere aux Canots, or River of Canoes. Zebulon Pike mentioned the Riviere aux Canots in his journal.
Easterners hearing the French pronounce "canots" thought they were saying cannon, and the Cannon River it became. Our town, named after the river, is the only city in America called Cannon Falls.
Father and son Richard and William Freeborn traced the Cannon River upstream to its falls in 1853. The two were drawn to the spot by what looked like a rainbow in the sky. The explorers found more than a pot of gold. Fertile land and abundant water awaited them. And the falls, they realized, were large enough to be harnessed for industry. Recognizing the area's potential, they agreed to keep their find secret until they could return to settle the next year.
Cannon Falls was settled in 1854 and by the late 1800s had become famous for its many water-powered flour mills. Soon, other settlers followed and the Village of Cannon Falls was incorporated in 1874. Today, the mills are gone, but the two rivers continue to provide the backdrop for our city. The beauty of the Cannon River remains, protected since 1980 as a Minnesota Scenic Waterway.
We hope you enjoy your stay. You'll find plenty to do, whether it's biking, hiking, or skiing the Cannon Valley Trail, canoeing the Cannon River, shopping, antiquing, golfing, boating, exploring our history, or relaxing in one of the city parks. The treasures of Cannon Falls are yours to discover.