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.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Otter Tail City Historical Marker

The historical marker and parking area. Highway 78 is a few steps to the right.

The marker was built in 1948 by the Minnesota Highway Department and is the main feature of the site. The parking area serves as a wayside rest. The stone was likely quarried in the St. Cloud area. This marker is similar to the Vineland Historical Marker near Mille Lacs Lake.

The marker was preceded by a 3' x 5' steel sign with text a bit longer than that noted below. That sign was placed by the highway marking program of the early 1930s, a joint project of the Minnesota Highway Department and Minnesota Historical Society. 

Otter Tail City
Otter Tail City in the 1850s was an important post on the fur trade route from St. Paul and Crow Wing  to the Red River Valley. It was once the county seat and had the U.S. Land Office for the district. When the county seat was established at Fergus Falls in 1872, the city was abandoned. [Seals of the Minnesota Historical Society and the Minnesota Department of Highways]

The information board was not part of the original design. This site is along the Otter Trail Scenic Byway.

Otter Tail City was a stop on the Red River Ox Cart Trail, both the Woods Trail which came from Crow Wing to the east, and the St. Paul Trail which ran up from the south.

The state inventory sheet notes that the large home just to the north of the site once served as a local stagecoach inn.

 Otter Tail City History

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Garrison Creek Culvert (Bridge 5266)

Garrison, MN
US Highway 169

The Garrison Creek culvert was built by the CCC in 1938. It carries Garrison Creek (Carlson Creek) under US Highway 169. The eastern headwall remains, the western removed when the highway was widened. The culvert replaced a wood bridge. This was one of several roadside features built by the same CCC camp.

East headwall, Garrison Creek Culvert

The CCC camp, Mille Lacs Lake (Camp SP-15), was located at the southern edge of Garrison, sponsored by the Department of Highways, supervised by the National Park Service, and operated by the U.S. Army.

The stone used in this bridge probably came from a quarry near Isle, a community located on the southeastern shore of Mille Lacs Lake. The Isle-Warman Creek granite region contains outcroppings of red, gray, and black granite that were quarried by various companies. (Historic Roadside Development Structures on Minnesota Trunk Highways)

Friday, October 4, 2013

Thompson Hill-Skyline Parkway Overlook

Duluth, MN
Skyline Parkway

The Thompson Hill-Skyline Parkway Overlook was designed and built by the Minnesota Department of Highways circa 1967. It is a scenic overlook on Skyline Parkway just below the Thompson Hill Rest Area. It looks out to the south, across I-35 and to the St. Louis River estuary. In spite of it being in poor condition, the parking area still has a scenic view of Duluth and the St. Louis River.

The roadside parking area and overlook wall

The overlook wall

Thompson Hill-Skyline Parkway Overlook, Oct. 2003
Minnesota Dept. of Transportation Historic Roadside Development Structures Inventory
View toward Duluth Harbor

Winter view of Blatnik Bridge from Thompson Hill

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

St. Cloud Historical Marker

St. Cloud, MN
US Highway 10


I probably drove by this marker a hundred times before I knew what it was. This roadside historical marker commemorates the first commercial granite quarry (see below). Originally located off the West/Northbound lanes of Highway 10 across from the prison, the marker has been moved to a new location near the Highway Safety and Research Center (turn to the east at the road to the prison) along Highway 10 south of St. Cloud.. The new location is just a short distance south of the original location.

This photo was taken at the original location across from the prison.
May 2008

The marker was barely visible at its original home. The turnout had been closed by Mn DOT, weeds grew tall in the ditch, and traffic on Highway 10 frowned on slowing down to get a look.

This marker was built in 1937 by the National Youth Administration (NYA).

Marker text:
First Granite Quarry
In the spring of 1868 Breen and Young opened the first commercial granite quarry in Minnesota, on the site of the present State Reformatory, just west of this point. From this beginning the industry has developed into a business involving millions of dollars. Erected by the North Star Granite Corporation, St. Cloud, 1930[sic]. Seals of the Minnesota Department of Highways and the Minnesota Historical Society carved near the bottom.

1937, MnDOT
Minnesota Dept. of Transportation Historic Roadside Development Structures Inventory