Mississippi Bluff Country Region, Minnesota Attractions
Highlights of the Mississippi Bluff Country Region are the Root River Bike Trail, scenic Beaver Creek Valley State Park, Mystery Cave and the pioneer Meighan Store, both at Forestville State Park.
Le Sueur, Minnesota
Le Sueur (pop. 4,000) was named for Pierre Charles Le Sueur, a 17th C explorer of the Minnesota River Valley. The town began as three small settlements named Le Sueur, Middle Le Sueur and Le Sueur City, which were united in 1867 by the Minnesota Legislature.The Green Giant Company was established here in 1903 as the Minnesota Valley Canning Company. In 1950, its name was changed to Green Giant Company. The original plant and warehouse were in operation from 1903 until February, 1995.
WW Mayo House
Dr William Worrall Mayo hand-built the Gothic-style home in Le Sueur in 1859 and set up his first medical practice in an upstairs room. Between 1874 and 1920, the home was owned and lived in by three generations of the Carson Nesbit Cosgrove family, founders of the Minnesota Valley Canning Company. The home has been restored and is furnished to the 1860 period.
Le Sueur Museum
Le Sueur Museum is housed in a former schoolhouse built c 1872. Displays include a church, the first post office in Le Sueur, a drug store, agricultural exhibits and antique radios. The Green Giant Room chronicles the history of the well-known food company.
Owatonna (pop. 22,000) is named after a spot where Native Americans camped on the banks of a river they called "Ouitunya," which means straight and is today the name of the major river. Legend has it that Owatonna, the sickly daughter of Chief Wabena, was restored back to health by the local curative waters. The Village of Yesteryear is a complex of 19th and early 20th century buildings.
Minnesota State Orphanage Museum
The Minnesota State School for Dependent and Neglected Children began in 1886 and served as home to 13,000 children until its closure in 1945. It is now a museum. The institution had its own power plant, icehouse, hospital, gym, greenhouse and farm. The Children's Cemetery contains the graves of 198 children and a memorial dedicated to the children.
Owatonna Arts Center & Sculpture Garden
The Owatonna Arts Center & Sculpture Garden is housed in an 1887 Romanesque-style building. Works by local and regional artists are displayed. A small sculpture garden on the grounds features works by Minnesota sculptors.
Treaty Site History Center, St Peter, Minnesota
In 1851 a treaty was signed between the Dakota Indians and the U.S. government in which 24 million acres in Minnesota, Iowa and South Dakota were ceded by the Indians in exchange for reservation lands to be paid in annual annuities of goods and money. The center presents exhibits with displays relating to the treaty and regional history.
Martin County Historical Museum, Fairmont, Minnesota
The Martin County Historical Museum in Fairmont is housed in a 1917 brick school building. It features displays on the history of the area including a 19th-century classroom, four rooms furnished as a pioneer home and a collection of local newspapers dating from 1874.
Methodist Church Museum, Spring Valley, Minnesota
The Methodist Church Museum is housed in a Victorian Gothic church, built in 1876 in Spring Valley. It features Italian stained-glass windows made c 1715. Exhibits include displays about the Wilder family and Richard Sears as well as an old-time country store, an 1874 fire wagon and religious relics.
Wabasha is one of the oldest towns on the Mississippi River, it was established in 1826. There are a number of recreational opportunities such as boating, camping, miles of trails and birding. Eagles nest near Wabasha year round and the National Eagle Center houses two eagles.
National Eagle Center
The National Eagle Center is an interpretive facility with an outdoor observation deck that allows for 24 hour, seven days a week eagle observation. Visitors can get up close and personal with five live eagles - four bald eagles: Harriet, Columbia, Angel & Was'aka and one golden eagle: Donald.
Address: 50 Pembroke Avenue, Box 242, Wabasha, MN 55981-0242, United States
Opening hours: 10am-5pm; Fri: 9am-6pm; Sat: 9am-6pm
Always closed on: Thanksgiving - USA (4th Thursday, Nov), Christmas Eve - Christian (Dec 24), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25)
Entrance fee in USD: Adult $8.00, Senior over 62 $6.00, Child 17 & under $5.00, Military discount FREE, Child 3 & under FREE
Arrowhead Bluffs Museum, Wabasha, Minnesota
Forestville, Wykoff, Minnesota
The Mystery Cave State Park is 3,000 acres of hardwood forests with oak, basswood, ironwood and sugar maple. Forestville Village is a late 19th C farming settlement with costumed guides. Hiking, horseback riding, cross-country skiing and camping opportunities are available.
Mystery Cave in Mystery Cave State Park features stalactites, stalagmites and underground pools. Guided tours are available during summer weekends.
George Hormel opened a small butcher shop in Austin (pop. 23,000) in 1887. Hormel Foods now has its flagship plant and international headquarters in Austin. The town is also known as Spam Town, USA.
Mower County Historical Center
Located at the Mower County Fairgrounds in Austin the Mower County Historical Center has historic buildings including a working blacksmith's shop, a church built in 1867 and a schoolhouse. On-site museums display American Indian artifacts, pioneer items, equipment used by local fireman and a train depot with caboose.
JC Hormel Nature Center
The JC Hormel Nature Center features plants and wildlife native to Minnesota. Canoe rentals are available in summer and cross-country ski trails and ski rentals are available in winter.
The 16,500 square-foot SPAM Museum in Austin chronicles the life of George Hormel's meat-processing empire since 1891 and the 1937 launch of SPAM.
James B Wakefield House Museum, Blue Earth, Minnesota
The former home of James B Wakefield who was Blue Earth's co-founder and a former Minnesota lieutenant governor, features furnishings and other items that belonged to early settlers.
Le Sueur County Museum, Elysian, Minnesota
The Le Sueur County Museum is housed in an 1895 brick schoolhouse in Elysian. The art collection features works by Adolf Dehn, Lloyd Herfindahl, David Maass, Roger Preuss, and Albert Christ-Janer.
Faribault (pop. 21,000) was begun in 1826 when Alexander Faribault established a fur-trading post in the area. By 1853 he had built the first frame house in the area.
Alexander Faribault House
The Alexander Faribault House is a Greek Revival dwelling where Faribault conducted both his business, as a fur trader, and his personal life. Faribault's house served as a conference center, polling place and church.
Episcopal Cathedral of Our Merciful Savior
The Episcopal Cathedral of Our Merciful Savior in Faribault was begun in 1862 and completed in 1869. Features include the bishop's chair and a stained-glass window showing a peace pipe on a broken tomahawk.
Faribault Woolen Mill
Rice County Museum of History
Rice County Museum of History in Faribault contains historical memorabilia and a genealogical research center. An 1856 log cabin, 1870s Episcopal church, agricultural building, 1920s kitchen and a restored one-room schoolhouse are on the grounds.
Niagara Cave, Harmony, Minnesota
Niagara Cave near Harmony has a waterfall, nearly 60ft/18m high, stalactites, calcite flowstone, fossils that have been dated to over 400 million years old, and a wedding chapel.
Mankato (pop. 32,000) is named for a Dakota word that means "blue earth". It is located on the Minnesota River in the southern part of the state. The town name refers to the clay that lines the riverbanks.
Minneopa State Park
The name for Minneopa State Park comes from the Dakota language and is interpreted to mean "water falling twice," which refers to the waterfalls of the Minneopa Creek. A limestone stairway leads to the valley below. Seppmann Mill, a wind driven grist mill, designed in German style from native stone and lumber is located within the park.
Hubbard House is an 18-room mansion built in 1871 in Mankato. Exhibits include an 1873 pioneer home, an early 20th-century schoolroom, barber and cobbler shops and pioneer displays. Next door to the mansion is carriage house, containing horse-drawn and other early vehicles.
Blue Earth County Heritage Center Museum
Sibley Park in Mankato features a zoo with more than 30 varieties of birds and animals, a botanical garden and many recreational opportunities.
Restoration House, Mantorville, Minnesota
Restoration House in Mantorville was built in 1856 and was used as the county office building with offices for sheriff, treasurer, and registrar of deeds. Exhibits include Civil War era furnishings and unusual, rare historic items.
Frontenac State Park, Red Wing, Minnesota
Frontenac State Park is a gathering spot for more than 260 species of birds. The park has scenic overlooks, old limestone quarries and American Indian burial grounds.
Rochester is the seat of the celebrated Mayo Clinic, famed particularly for its heart operations. There are guided visits on weekdays.Rochester (pop. 97,000) is the third-largest city in Minnesota.
Olmsted County History Center
The Olmsted County Historical Society in Rochester operates historic buildings and sites including the William Dee Log Cabin, Hadley Valley School House and Mayowood Mansion. The onsite museum has a decorative arts room with antique furniture and glassware. Other exhibits include medicine, St Mary's Hospital, IBM, and the 1883 Rochester tornado.
Address: 1195 West Circle Drive, Rochester, MN 55902-6619, United States
Mayowood Mansion Tour
Mayowood Mansion in Rochester is the former residence of Dr Charles H Mayo. The mansion features 32 rooms furnished with French, English, Spanish, German and American antiques.
Address: 3720 Mayowood Road SW, Rochester, MN 55902-6619, United States
Opening hours: May 1 to May 29: 11am-2pm; Closed: Sun, Mon, Wed, Thu, Fri
Jun 1 to Aug 2: 11am-2pm; Closed: Mon, Fri
Aug 24 to Oct 16: 11am-2pm; Closed: Sun, Mon, Wed, Thu, Fri
Jun 1 to Aug 2: 11am-2pm; Closed: Mon, Fri
Aug 24 to Oct 16: 11am-2pm; Closed: Sun, Mon, Wed, Thu, Fri
Entrance fee in USD: Adult $12.00, Child 15 & under $5.00
Plummer House of the Arts
In 1917, Dr Henry S. Plummer and his wife Daisy, began construction of "Quarry Hill" in Rochester. It was later known as the Plummer House. In 1924, the 65-acre estate consisted of the house, greenhouse, water tower, garage and gazebo. Today 11 acres remain with landscaped grounds, formal gardens, bird trail, quarry, and water tower as well as the 49-room mansion.
Mayo Clinic Tour
The Mayo Clinic Tour begins at the Judd Auditorium in the 19-story Mayo Building. Visitors can tour the several floors in the Mayo Building as well as the historical area in the Plummer Building. Public art and architecture are other features of the tour.
Rochester Art Center
The Rochester Art Center features exhibits of major artwork by regional and national artists. Works include paintings, prints, drawings, sculptures, clay works, photography, textiles, and mixed media.
The tower high atop the Plummer Building of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester houses the 56 bell Rochester Carillon. The beautiful bells come from England and Holland.
Albert Lea, Minnesota
Albert Lea (pop. 18,000) became a settlement when a dam was constructed for a water-powered mill in 1855. The town has developed around Fountain Lake.
Freeborn County Museum and Historical Village
Freeborn County Museum and Historical Village in Albert Lea is a Pioneer Village, a Museum, and a Library, which illustrate the lifestyle of early settlers. Buildings located throughout the grounds include a log cabin, a general store, a one-room schoolhouse, a blacksmith shop, a train depot, and a church.
Story Lady Doll & Toy Museum
The Story Lady Doll & Toy Museum in Albert Lea features 1500 dolls including antiques, storybook characters, designer dolls, and hand-crafted dolls. Antique toys and a 100 year old handcarved dancing doll display are featured.
Oxbow Park and Zollman Zoo, Byron, Minnesota
Oxbow Park features camping, hiking, fishing, a playground, and a nature center and the Zollman Zoo with more than 30 native animals.
Winona (pop. 27,000) was first settled by New Englanders and Germans as an early lumber town. Today it is a leading business and industrial center.
In 1849, Chief Wapasha granted permission to his friend, fur-trader Willard Bunnell, to build a cabin. The Bunnell House in Winona is an example of Rural (or Steamboat) Gothic Architecture. Built of northern white pine and furnished with items appropriate to the mid-to-late 1800's, the home provides a glimpse into pioneer life.
Pickwick Mill has been in operation for more than 120 years. It was originally constructed as a combined gristmill and sawmill. The mill is built of locally quarried limestone with a timber frame. It is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Winona County Historical Museum
The history of Winona is presented at the Winona County Historical Museum. The museum is housed in the former National Guard Armory and highlights include stained-glass windows, a children's exhibit and a model of early Main Street.
Polish Cultural Institute
The Polish Cultural Institute in Winona houses Kashubian artifacts, family heirlooms, religious articles, and folk art.
Sugar Loaf Bluff was part of a quarrying operation, the limestone formation rises 450ft/137m above Winona. The Sioux once held ceremonies at the monolith.