The line started as the Minnesota Central in 1882. The line was planned and built between Mankato and Red Wing. Construction started Easterly from Waterville, and was completed to Red Wing in just over six Months, with regular service beginning in January of 1883, the line was also completed from Waterville to Mankato in 1883. By August 1883 the line was reorganized under the name Wisconsin, Minnesota and Pacific. But in 1884 A. B. Strickrey of the Chicago Great Western Railroad established Stock Control changing its name to the Great Western in 1909, which then Merged into the Chicago North Western in 1968.
The last train ran between Cannon Falls and Red Wing in 1976, officially abandoned in 1982, with rail removal in 1983.
Today the stretch between Cannon Falls and Red Wing is a recreational trail called Cannon Valley Trail, which is about 20 miles in length.