Archive for June, 2016

Fort Snelling

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Today I visited Historic Fort Snelling, just outside of Minneapolis, in Hennepin County, Minnesota.  Fort Snelling was established in the aftermath of the War of 1812 when Minnesota was still a frontier territory, with the purpose of protecting the fur trade from British meddling.  The fort eventually closed but re-opened at the onset of the Civil War.  Although many Minnesotans went on to fight in the Civil War, the war never came this far north.  Troops headquartered here did battle with the Dakota Indians in 1862 in other parts of Minnesota.  The fort saw its final use in World War II as a processing center for the newly drafted.

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The fort a parade demonstration and later a firing of the cannon.

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Usually when I visit a historic site I more or less know what I’m going to see.  I had no idea however that one of the most famous people to live here was a slave by the name of Dred Scott.  Scott was the property of Dr. John Emerson, an army physician who brought Scott to Fort Snelling with him from Missouri, a slave state.  Fort Snelling was at that time a part of the Wisconsin Territory, which was a free territory, but for some reason slavery was permitted at the fort.  Years later Scott sued for his freedom, arguing in part that he was free once he entered the free territory of Wisconsin.  He lost the case but helped fuel the growing abolitionist movement which came to full fruition with the Civil War. Dr. Emerson’s quarters are re-created in the picture on the left.  Below his quarters is the kitchen where Scott, along with his slave wife lived.

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Fort Snelling State Park is a short walk from the fort.  After the Dakota War of 1862, about 1600 Dakota Indians were imprisoned in what is now part of the State Park during the winter of 1862-1863.  About 130 of them died here.


The final stop on my tour of Fort Snelling was to stop at the nearby Fort Snelling National Cemetery.  Established in 1939, over 200,000 are now buried here.

Nerstran Big Woods State Park


Today I went hiking at Nerstran Big Woods State Park in Rice County, Minnesota.


The highlight of the park is Hidden Falls.  Not sure how it got that name because it was very easy to find.


Actually, maybe it makes sense.  The falls drop off is “hidden” by the bend of Prairie Creek.


The park has some smaller streams running through it as well.


Chester Woods Park


This afternoon I visited Chester Woods Park, in Olmsted County, Minnesota.  I hiked the majority of trails here, some of which doubled as equestrian trails.


A nice view of Chester Lake.


In addition to the woods the park has abundant prairie grassland.


I neglected to wear my bug repellent (again) but surprisingly came away with no bites.


Quarry Hill Park

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This afternoon I stopped at Quarry Hill Park in Rochester, Minnesota.  I think the foliage is peaking out in its full greenness about now

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The park gets its name due to the fact it was once the site of a stone quarrying operation.  When I arrived at the quarry it reminded me slightly of being on top of Stone Mountain in North Carolina.


Some ruins at the quarry site.


There were quite a few ducks milling about the pond but only two on the man made wooden platform.

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In addition to the waterfowl, I saw two other animals, both very close to the visitors center.  I was told that the snake is a corn snake and not venomous.  The squirrel did not seem the slightest concerned about me.

Pipestone National Monument


Today I visited Pipestone National Monument in Pipestone County, Minnesota.  I actually had no idea what the significance of this monument was before coming here today.  The native stone here was and is still used to make ceremonial smoking pipes by Native American Indians.


But if not for the cultural significance, this site would still have significance for being a natural attraction.  The stone outcroppings along with a beautiful waterfall in the middle of a prairie make this a unique site.

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There are two faces in the stone outcroppings.  To the left is the “Old Stone Face” and to the right is “The Oracle.”


This water looks so pure and natural, however a sign warned not to drink it because of farm fertilizer runoff.


Quarrying is still done at the National Monument, however you must have a permit and you must be a Native American Indian.


These rocks were left behind by a glacier during the ice age.  They are called the “Three Maidens” and are said to “shelter the spirits of maidens who require offerings from visiting Indians before permitting them to quarry pipestone.”