Sunday, December 29, 2013

Gran Evangelical Lutheran Church (NRHP)

Gran Evangelical Lutheran Church was built in 1897. A log church, it was the first church in Clearwater County. Added to the National Register May 19. 1988. 1

Near junction of Clearwater County Road 45 and 20 in the Bagley vicinity.

1 Minnesota Historical Society

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Hewitt Roadside Parking Area

Hewitt, MN
US Highway 71 & MN Highway 210

The Hewitt Roadside Parking Area was designed by A. R. Nichols and built by the Minnesota Highway Department and the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in 1936. The site includes a dam on the Wing River, a stone springhouse, and stone picnic tables. Additional features added later included a restroom building and a picnic shelter.

Wing River Dam

Stone Springhouse

One of three stone tables

Spring enclosure Hewitt Roadside Parking Area April 2003
Historic Roadside Development Structures on Minnesota Trunk Highways
Stone table Hewitt Roadside Parking Area April 2003
Historic Roadside Development Structures on Minnesota Trunk Highways

Picnic Shelter, ca 1978
Hewitt Lions Club

Restroom building, ca 1960

Parking area

The site is located in the southeast corner of the intersection of US Highway 71 and MN Highway 210 in Hewitt, MN.

The Hewitt Public School, built in 1911, is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Highway 210 between Hewitt and Staples crosses the Wadena Drumlins, a series of elongated hills which are positioned roughly on a north-south axis. Highway 210 runs perpendicular to the hills. The result is a "roller-coaster" ride. Fun for all.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Leaf City Historical Marker

East of Otter Tail
Minnesota Highway 108

Built in 1938 by the Otter Tail County Historical Society. The site has a boat landing and small gravel parking area. 

Marker text:
Leaf City
Trading post on the Red River Trail in 1857 and United States Post Office from 1857 to 1860. The settlement was broken up by the Sioux outbreak of 1862. Dedicated by the Otter Tail County Historical Society, June 26, 1938.

The present site marker was preceded by a 3' x 5' sign circa 1930 with the following text:
Leaf City
Already a trading post on the Red River trail in 1857, a colony from Cambridge, Massachusetts settled here in the spring of 1858, and a U.S. Post Office was maintained from December 2, 1857 to April 11, 1860. The community disappeared with the Sioux Outbreak of 1862, and Leaf City became one of Minnesota's many vanished towns. 
[Seals of Minnesota Historical Society and Minnesota Department of Highways]

Leaf City was a stop on the Red River Ox Cart Trail. A traveler in 1861 wrote upon arriving "we came to Leaf City (houses one, population one), slept within four walls, rested a day while the rain poured..." ¹

circa 1938, MnDOT
Minnesota Dept. of Transportation Historic Roadside Development Structures Inventory

¹ Marble, Manton. (1861, February). To the Red River and Beyond [Third Paper]. Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, 22(129), 306–323.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Camp Ripley Entrance Walls

Camp Ripley
Minnesota Highways 371 and 115

The Camp Ripley Entrance Walls were built between 1934 and 1942 and involved three relief agencies; Fed/State Emergency Relief (FERA/SERA), Works Progress Administration (WPA), and Work Projects Administration (WPA). Little Falls Black Granite was used and the stones were laid without mortar, except for the gateposts. The site includes Bridge 4969 which carries Highway 115 over the Mississippi River.

A "pseudo-guard tower"¹, one at each of the north and south walls, east of Bridge 4969. This is the southern one.
The northern wall follows the arc of the Veterans Cemetery from Morrison County 76 to Minnesota Highway 115.

The north "pseudo-guard tower"

The stone gateposts to the cemetery were added between 1994 and 1998.

Veterans Cemetery entrance

This type of wall runs along both sides of 115 east of the bridge, along the north side of 115 west of the bridge

These low walls parallel Mn Highway 115 from County 76 to the bridge over the Mississippi River where both sides abut against the bridge rails. West of the bridge the wall on the north side of Mn 115 continues up to and just past the main entrance to Camp Ripley.

Along the north side of Mn 115

Main camp gate

Camp Ripley Entrance Walls, Aug. 1997
Minnesota Dept. of Transportation Historic Roadside Development Structures Inventory

The walls were built primarily to function "as a visible symbol of military presence. . ."¹

In the northwest corner of Mn 115 and County 76 a tank stands on a earthen mound with "Camp Ripley" lettered below. A similar tank is along northbound Mn 371 just south of the exit to County 47/Mn 115.

The camp entrance walls have not been altered with the exception of the gateposts to the Veterans Cemetery.
Camp Ripley is one of the largest National Guard training camps in the country.

¹ Susan Granger, Scott Kelly, and Kay Grossman. (1998, December). Historic Roadside Development Structures on Minnesota Trunk Highways. Minnesota Department of Transportation.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Pillsbury Mine Overlook

Chisholm, MN
US Highway 169/MN Highway 73

The Pillsbury Mine Overlook was located along both sides of US 169/MN 73 just south of Chisholm. This site was sometimes referred to as the Miner's Look-Out. The overlook was abandoned some time ago and guardrails block the old parking areas which are surrounded by chain link fencing. The highway passes through the Pillsbury mine.

US169/MN73 running through the Pillsbury mine
USGS MN Hibbing 2010

The overlook, built in 1962 by the Minnesota Highway Department, "aroused considerable public interest as an added tourist attraction. Lookouts will be built along a one-fifth mile portion of the road that traverses the Pillsbury open-pit mine for better viewing of the pits." ¹ This was part of a realignment project for Highway 169 which also included a bridge "to carry the Oliver Iron Mining division railroad tracks over the relocated highway." ²

The ribbon cutting for the work was noted in the October 1963 Minnesota Highways.

A 1972 aerial photograph shows the bridge and overlook areas (with parking stripes)

1972 Aerial photo - MnDNR

The east side consisted of a parking area with a rectangular extension jutting to the east. A lectern-style stone marker is located at the north end of the east parking area. The site is on a slope in the road, down traveling north and up traveling south. The present roadway is above the grade of the old overlook.

Stone marker and east parking area

Stone marker built from local rock, plaque removed

The marker and parking area are deteriorating. The railroad tracks seen behind the stone marker are the trolley tracks for the Discovery Center located a half mile north on Hwy 169.

East parking area

Rectangular parking extension on east side

The west side consisted of a parking area off the highway.

West side parking area

Trees and brush have grown tall and thick enough since the site was abandoned to block most of the view of the old mine.

The construction log³ for Hwy 169 does not specify when the overlook was closed. In 1981 "traffic barrier construction" was completed. A 1989 aerial photograph shows the overlook in seemingly intact condition.


¹ Minnesota Highway News, April, 1962, Minnesota Highway Department. From Historic Roadside Development Structures on Minnesota Trunk Highways
² Ibid
³ State of Minnesota Department of Highways, Construction Project Log Record, TH 169/73 W. Co. Line - N. Jct. T.H. 73 in Chisholm

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Baudette Rest Area - Peace Park

Baudette, MN
MN Highway 72

This roadside parking area is at the border crossing in Baudette, available to travelers along Minnesota 11 and those crossing the international border (Minnesota 72).

The entry on Highway 72

The rest area is along a loop roadway with three parking areas, several cast concrete circular picnic tables, a restroom building and water fountain (seasonal), a storage building, two history markers, and two grave sites. The site is along the Baudette River where it meets the Rainy River. The border station is on the west side of the rest area. The Minnesota Highway Department established the rest area in 1969 as part of the Federal Highway Beautification program.

One of the parking areas

Restroom building and water fountain

One of several picnic tables

Storage building added c. 1980

The two grave sites c. 1904 & 1907

The two graves in the Old Town Cemetery are those who had no surviving relatives to grant permission to relocate the remains to the Elm Park Cemetery in 1909. ¹


c. 1966
Massacre Island
    Tradition is woven of fact and fiction. Two islands in the Lake of the Woods are named 'Massacre,' one on the Canadian, one on the American side of the boundary. The Canadian island, the larger of the two, is heavily wooded. The American island is small, rocky and barren. These islands were so named because of the following events.
    In 1732, Pierre Gaultier de Varennes de la Verendrye, French-Canadian explorer and trader, built Fort St. Charles at Northwest Angle Inlet on Lake of the Woods. From this base he traded with the Cree and Assiniboine for furs to finance explorations for a passage to the Western Sea.
    Early in June, 1736, La Verendrye sent his son, Jean-Baptiste, with the priest, Father Pierre Aulneau, and nineteen voyageurs eastward for supplies. At their first campsite, a small rocky island 'seven leagues' from the Fort, they were attacked and killed by a Sioux war party. The bodies were decapitated and placed in a row. The heads of the voyageurs were wrapped in beaver pelts and left near the bodies. Those of Jean-Baptiste and Father Aulneau may have been carried off as trophies.
    Several weeks after the massacre, a party of Chippewa passed a small island and discovered the victims of the massacre. Out of reverence for the priest, and because they could not dig a grave on the rocky island, they raised a stone cairn over his body.
    When he learned of the tragedy, the elder La Verendrye had the remains of the men taken to Fort St. Charles and buried near the chapel. They were found there in 1908 by an archaeological party from St. Boniface College, Manitoba, Canada.
    The island where the massacre occurred has never been satisfactorily identified. 
Erected by the Minnesota Historic Sites and Markers Commission, 1966

c. 1966
Great Fire of 1910
    Northern Minnesota forests were tinder dry during the fall of 1910. Marshes and streams shriveled. Small fires smoldered here and there in the peat bogs and underbrush.
    On October 4 a forest fire consumed the communities of Williams, Cedar Spur, and Graceton. The flames, fed by loggers' slashings, crackled onward and three days later completely destroyed all the buildings in the little town of Pitt except the depot.
    The fire approached Baudette and Spooner on the evening of October 7. As the towns rapidly became furnaces of flames, citizens gathered at the depot for safety. Victims of a typhoid epidemic were evacuated by train before a whirlwind of flame swept away the two towns and the bridge over the Baudette River that connected them.
    Before morning almost everything at Baudette was leveled, leaving what one survivor called a desolate plain' covered by charred ruins. Only the sawmill at Spooner remained standing.
    Forty-two persons lost their lives in the great fire of 1910. About 300,000 acres were burned in ten townships, including much valuable timber and many homesteads and livestock.
Erected by the Minnesota Historical Society 1966

Rainy River International Bridge between Baudette and Canada
Seen from rest area

¹ Susan Granger, Scott Kelly, and Kay Grossman. (1998, December). Historic Roadside Development Structures on Minnesota Trunk Highways. Minnesota Department of Transportation.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Pelican Rapids Village Historical Marker

Pelican Rapids
US Highway 59

The roadside parking area is in Pelican Rapids along the west side of US 59. There is limited parking at the marker on the entrance drive between US 59 and County 9. This RPA was built by the Minnesota Highway Department in 1946 in cooperation with the Otter Tail County Historical Society, the city of Pelican Rapids, and the eight adjoining townships. The site originally included concrete benches and a Millstone Marker, those features are no longer there.

From the parking area

The marker sits facing south and has a center panel and a panel on each side. Each panel has text describing early settlement in the Pelican Rapids area. A flagpole is set in the center of the main panel.

Center panel
Upper text - Pelican Rapids Village. First settler: Harrison Harris, 1869. Village platted: 1872. Village Incorporated: May 16, 1882. First Church Organized: Congregational May 10, 1882. First School District Organized: No. 10, Nov. 17, 1871. First Post Office Established: 'Pelican Rapids,' July 8, 1872, O. A. A. Blyberg, P. M. Railroad arrived July 4, 1882.

Lower text - This historical marker was erected through the cooperation of the Otter Tail County Historical Society, the eight adjoining townships, the Village of Pelican Rapids, and the Minnesota Highway Department. Dedicated Sept. 22, 1946.

West panel

 The four panels have the following text:
Norwegian Grove. First settlers: Henry Ongstad, Ole Raade, Jacob Torkelson, Iver Dahl, Henry Israelson, all in 1869. Township Organized: Jan. 7, 1873. First Church Organized: Immanuel Norwegian Lutheran, Apr. 28, 1870. First School District Organized: No. 48, Jan. 6, 1874. First Rural Post Office Established: 'Norwegian Grove,' Mar. 4, 1878, Haag Back, P.M.

Scambler. First Settlers: 'Bob' Scambler, Peter Small, 1868. Township Organized: Aug. 8, 1871. First Church Organized: Union Church June 23, 1876. First School District Organized: No. 39, Jan. 7, 1873. First Rural Post Office Established: 'Pelican Lake,' Apr. 2, 1873, P. F. Peabody, P. M. 'Prairie Leaflet' published 1879-1882.

Trondhjem. First Settlers: Knut Pederson, Lauris Hanson, 1869. Township Organized: July 7, 1873. First Church Organized: South Immanuel Lutheran Church, 1872. First School District Organized: No. 73, July 26, 1876. First Rural Post Office Established: 'Stod' June 12, 1888, John O. Ferguson, P.M.

Pelican Township. First Settler: John M. Johnson, June 1, 1869. Township Organized: Sept. 5, 1870. First Church Organized: Ringsacker Evangelical Lutheran Church, Sept. 27, 1875. First School District Organized: No. 18, Oct. 3, 1870. First Rural Post Office Established: 'Pelican Rapids,' July 8, 1872, First postmaster O. A. E. Blyberg.

East panel

Dunn. First Settler: George Dunn, 1865. Township Organized: March 16, 1880. First Church Organized: Zion Lutheran, Nov. 30, 1912. First School District Organized: No. 167, May 2, 1882. First Rural Post Office Established: 'Bucks Mill,' June 16, 1886, Simeon S. Buck, P.M.
 Maplewood. First Settler: Peter F. Johnson, 1874. Township Organized: July 26, 1880. First Church Organized: Maplewood Presbyterian, Dec. 25, 1886. First School District Organized: No. 145, Jan. 4, 1881. First Rural Post Office Established: 'Worden,' May 11, 1892. Harrison Worden, P. M.
Lida. First Settler: Louis De Pochee, 1871. Township Organized: March 18, 1879. First Church Organized: none ever organized. First School District Organized: No. 108, Mar. 20, 1879. First Rural Post Office Established: 'Lida,' May 26, 1882, Henry Moore, P. M.

Erhard's Grove. First Settler: Alexander Erhard, May 15, 1869. Township Organized: Sept. 24, 1870. First Church Organized: Bagestvold Congregation Norwegian Lutheran, Mar. 4, 1874. First School District Organized: No. 17, Oct. 3, 1870. First Rural Post Office Established: 'Erhard,' June 19, 1874, Oren S. Sweet, P. M. First railroad arrived July 18, 1882.

Friday, October 18, 2013

No-ta-she-bun Public Water Access

Willow Lake
Highway 6

The No-ta-she-bun Lake (also called Willow Lake) Public Water Access was formerly a roadside picnic area. It is part of the Willow Lake Roadside Parking Area, leased to the DNR for use as a boat launch.

Willow Lake (No-ta-she-bun Lake)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Willow Lake Roadside Parking Area

Willow Lake
Highway 6

This roadside feature has two elements, the roadside parking area and a public boat access to Willow Lake (No-ta-she-bun Lake). The parking area or wayside rest, is currently closed for repairs¹ (Sept 2013). The lake access is the southern unit, about ¼ mile south. Both are along Highway 6 about 9 miles north of Remer.

The roadside parking area closed for repairs (September 2013)

The wall and stone curb along the parking area 

Stairs down to Willow Lake

The stone overlook wall was built by the CCC Camp F-46 between 1939 and 1941. Camp F-46 was located near Remer.

Willow Lake Roadside Parking Area, Aug. 1997
Minnesota Dept. of Transportation Historic Roadside Development Structures Inventory

Additional features included a log bathhouse and a log observation tower.

¹It is reassuring to see repair work being done to preserve this roadside feature. Thanks Mn DOT.