Sunday, May 20, 2007

Quirky Stuff - The Rothsay Prairie Chicken

Rothsay, MN

The greater prairie chicken once thrived on the grasslands of western Minnesota. Today, through loss of habitat, populations have declined greatly. Around the town of Rothsay, several carefully managed areas of native prairie grasses still support these magnificent birds, giving some hope for their future. In 1975, Rothsay built this giant statue to declare itself the “Prairie Chicken Capital of Minnesota.”

Quirky Stuff - The Pelican Rapids Pelican

Pelican Rapids, MN

Pelican Rapids features what is proclaimed to be the world’s largest pelican. It was built in 1957 and sits below the Mill Pond dam in the center of town. The Pelican Rapids area is quite scenic and popular with tourists. It is also located on the Pine to Prairie Birding Trail, providing numerous possibilities for bird watchers.

Landmarks and History - The Little Red Schoolhouse

Sauk Centre, MN

This incredibly well-preserved school, known as the Little Red Schoolhouse, once served the educational needs of the community of Sauk Centre. Today, the school sits on the grounds of the Sinclair Lewis Interpretive Center and is open for tours. Sauk Centre is the hometown of Lewis, the noted author and Nobel Prize winner.

Quirky Stuff - The Ashby Coot

Ashby, MN

Sure, you have seen a lot of interesting statues, but have you ever seen one of an American coot? You will if you drive to the town of Ashby, MN. This large coot was erected by a group called “Coots Unlimited,” an Ashby sportsmen’s club. Every year they host a banquet to raise money for local area wildlife projects.

Quirky Stuff - Big Ole in Alexandria

Alexandria, MN

Alexandria is home to “Big Ole,” a 28-foot tall Viking. This statue was built in 1965 for the Minnesota pavilion at the New York World’s Fair. It was brought to Alexandria later that year to help name the city “The Birthplace of Minnesota” because of the discovery of the Kensington Runestone, a controversial, yet historic, artifact which could place Vikings in the area as early as 1362.

Quirky Stuff - The Fergus Falls Otter

Fergus Falls, MN

Fergus Falls is a popular recreation and tourist destination in west-central Minnesota that offers countless outdoor activities. While entering the city going west on Highway 210, don’t be surprised to see a rather large otter. It is almost impossible to miss as it guards the shoreline in the Adams/Grotto Lake Park. Why a giant otter statue, you ask? Fergus Falls is located in Otter Tail County, of course!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Places - Isle

Isle, MN

The city of Isle is located on the southeastern corner of Mille Lacs Lake in central Minnesota. Not only is Isle a summer fishing mecca, but it offers year-round tourism in the form of snowmobiling, ice fishing, hunting, and plenty of golfing opportunities as well. Like the town of Garrison, its neighbor across the lake, Isle also has a giant walleye statue of its own and proclaims to be the “Walleye Capital of the World.”

Quirky Stuff - The Garrison Walleye

Garrison, MN

The town of Garrison is located on the northwest corner of Mille Lacs Lake. While this town is the gateway to both the Brainerd Lakes area, as well as the Grand Rapids area to the north, Garrison is also known as one of Minnesota’s most popular walleye fishing destinations. In recognition of that, this large walleye statue greets visitors at the scenic overlook along Highway 169.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Food - Caribou Cream Maple Syrup

Lutsen, MN

Aficionados of a good breakfast know that there is absolutely no substitute for real maple syrup. And in an area of the state known primarily for being blanketed by boreal forests, many are surprised to learn that there is some excellent maple syrup being produced on the North Shore. One of them is Caribou Cream, a locally made syrup out of Lutsen. This marvelously sweet liquid gold will make any pancake or waffle a decadent treat!

Landmarks and History - Hay Lake School

New Scandia Township, MN

Built in 1896, the Hay Lake School served New Scandia Township and the Washington County Rural School system up until 1963. The school sat boarded up until 1970 when a group of citizens sought to save the building, cleaned it up, and started offering tours. As a result, the Hay Lake School was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970 and now serves as a museum that is owned and operated by the Washington County Historical Society.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Landmarks and History - MN's 10 Most Endangered Historic Places of 2007

This week the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota, an organization with a mission "to preserve, protect, and promote Minnesota's historic resources," released its 2007 listing of Minnesota's ten most endangered historic places. The list is as follows:

1. Ely Community Center in Ely

2. Serbian Cultural Center in South St. Paul

3. Litchfield Opera House in Litchfield

4. St. Anthony Falls Historic District in Minneapolis

5. Waseca Depot in Waseca

6. State Theater in Owatonna

7. St. John the Baptist Catholic School in Jordan

8. Southeast Library in Minneapolis

9. The Mississippi River Valley in St. Paul

10. Minnesota's Historic Schools - Beardsley School in Beardsley, Jasper School in Jasper, Kasson Elementary School in Kasson, Pipestone Central School in Pipestone, Two Harbors High School in Two Harbors, and Worthington Central School in Worthington

The reasons that these particular locations are in trouble vary, but common themes include such things as planned demolition, underutilization, neglect, and the threat of development. Please check out this beautiful photographic exhibit featuring these endangered sites. This exhibit also contains information on each location, as well as some proposed action items people can take to help preserve these sites and others for future generations of Minnesotans.