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.”


Judy Garland Museum


This morning I made a brief visit to the Judy Garland Museum, located in Grand Rapids, Minnesota.  Garland was born in Grand Rapids in 1922 and lived here until moving to California in 1926.  Garland went on to become a well known actress, staring many films, but best known for her roles in The Wizard of Oz and A Star is Born.


Garland was the youngest of 3 girls and shared this room with her parents.

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I’m wondering if the house was really this nice when Garland lived here.


The childhood home is attached to a Children’s Museum and inside the museum is a carriage that was used in The Wizard of Oz.  It discovered years later, when it was being restored, that the original owner of the carriage was President Abraham Lincoln!

Suomi Hills


Today I took along the Suomi Hills trails at the Chippewa National Forest in Itasca County, Minnesota.  Suomi is just south of the Laurentian Divide.  All waters north of the divide flow into the Arctic Ocean and everything south of the divide flows into the Gulf of Mexico.  This are was once a mountain range, but was reduced to hills during the ice age.


There were several lakes along the trails.  I did see a few other cars parked at the trail head, but never saw anyone along the hike.  I suspect they were fishing, rather than hiking.


So Minnesota is supposed to have 10,000 lakes.  I wonder how many islands are inside of those lakes?


Looking back at these pictures, it looks like I should have had a great hike, but the mosquitoes were so bad it made the hike not so fun.  I did apply mosquito spray at the start of the hike but was getting bitten within 90 minutes of leaving.  I left the can of spray in the car.  I suppose next time I will take it with me and reapply every 90 minutes or so.


Cut Foot Sioux CCC Camp F-14 Ruins


Today I was driving through the Chippewa National Forest in Itasca County, Minnesota and saw a sign that said “historic site,” so I pulled off and investigated.  The site was one of 4,500 such Civilian Conservation Corps camps that existed during the depression of the 1930’s to employ out of work men.   The camp disbanded in 1942 and was reopened the next year as a prisoner of war camp housing captured Germans during World War II.  This is all that remains of the power plant that provided electricity for the camp.


Oil changes took place here at the Truck Grease Rack.


As recently as the 1990’s a chimney was still standing here, however it was intentionally toppled for “safety reasons.”


I was sort of thinking to myself that if I had been alive in the 1930’s and out of work, going to live and work in a National Forest might have been something that would have appealed to me.  Then I came across the camp toilet……

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North West Company Fur Post


Today I visited the North West Company Fur Post, just outside of Pine City, Minnesota.  The post has been reconstructed as to what it would have been like in the winter of 1804 – 1805.


The post housed the team of somewhere between 10 – 20 men that brought the goods from Canada to be traded with the native Ojibwe Indians.  The Ojibwe traded beaver furs which were used in the making of the in demand Beaver hats of the day.  The trading company brought cloths, guns, tools, etc. to be traded with the natives.  I wasn’t quite sure why the palisade walls were necessary since the traders were on friendly terms with the natives.  Apparently it was more to keep wild animals out and possibly blowing snow in winter as well.


The Ojibwe had more spartan living quarters.  This is a typical winter home, with the roof designed to keep snow from accumulating on top and caving in of the roof.


All of the goods to be traded with the natives were brought by canoe along a series of rivers, the final leg of which was the Snake River.  Although it looks peaceful and calm, the journey getting here was anything but.  The waters were shallow and in some cases required manually carrying all of the goods over land.  I honestly don’t know how it could have been done without making multiple trips and without the use of animal labor.   After spending the winter trading with the natives, the team returned north with the furs to be sold for the making of hats.  In the fall they came back south to the post and started the whole process over again, although it is not know exactly how many years the post was in operation.