Pepin is situated on the shores of Lake Pepin, a lake that is 3 miles wide and 23 miles long. This beautiful lake is a big attraction for people from all areas. The lake is great for sailing, fishing, canoeing, water skiing, boating and swimming or even a tour boat ride. Also, several times during the summer, the impressive paddle-wheel boats, the Mississippi Queen and her sister ship the Delta Queen, come through Lake Pepin on their trips up and down the Mississippi River. The sight of these beautiful, old boats is one few people ever forget!
Pierre Pepin and Jean Pepin, two sons of Frank Guillatune dit Tranchemontagne, were early explorers of this region. They came here from ‘ Three Rivers, which is on the lower St. Lawrence in Canada, about 1679. The presence of these two men in this area resulted in the name Pepin for the lake, village and county. The Village was platted in 1855, first incorporated in April of 1860, the incorporation abandoned in 1864, and then re-incorporated in 1882 at the request of a group of residents. The Village was laid out at the foot of the lake for which it was named.
Pepin’s current marina, which shelters sail and power boats, is built in the harbor where steamboats once docked. From the harbor, Lake, Main and Prairie Streets climb the hill to Highway 35 and stretch across the sand prairie on which early hopefuls thought a city to rival Milwaukee would one day rise. Luckily for the surrounding countryside, it did not. Many visitors and some residents chose the area’s rural peacefulness to escape larger cities.
The main attraction of the water today is recreation, whether Lake Pepin, the Chippewa River, or the winding sloughs of the Chippewa backwaters. Hikers in the Tiffany Wildlife area can wander the logging roads or follow the old wagon roads kept clear by the DNR.