What is now Rochester was home to tribal nations before the mid-19th-century arrival of pioneers who initiated businesses based on the region’s natural resources. Early railroad lines shuttling timber around the country made Rochester something of a boom town; when that industry declined, the town became known for its strawberries. The Chehalis Tribe still calls this area home, and today they thrive thanks in part to the presence of Lucky Eagle Casino.
Rochester honors the heritage of some of its founders with the annual tradition of Swede Day. Rochester’s most notable attraction is the Gate City Schoolhouse, a one-room building dating back to 1910 and reminiscent of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s life. Like the old days, agriculture still plays a major role here, with several farms and nurseries ready to offload flowers, fruits, vegetables, and plants in this agriculturally rich area alongside the Chehalis River.