historic district incorporates locally quarried stone.
Among the distinctive buildings, some with carved
gargoyles, are the county courthouse, the 1888 Calumet
Hotel and the old city hall, now home to the county
history museum. Stop here for a self-guided walking tour
brochure. At the edge of town is the Pipestone National
Monument. For centuries, members of many American
Indian tribes traveled long distances to carve red stone at
the quarry here for use in ceremonial pipes. The quarries
at the Monument are still reserved for use by Indians.
There are exhibits and craft demonstrations at the
visitors’ center, and a path winds through the quarries
and past a small waterfall.
There’s evidence that people have traveled the
prairies of southwestern Minnesota for centuries. A
fascinating record of prehistoric life is found in stone
carvings in a patch of prairie north of Windom. Now a
state historic site, the Jeffers Petroglyphs include more
than 2,000 rock carvings of human figures and animals,
dating from 3,000 B.C. up to the 1700s.
The mid and late 1800s brought another wave of
travelers, settlers who came to homestead these lands.
Author Laura Ingalls Wilder vividly described pioneer
life in her children’s books, later the basis of the popular
TV show “Little House on the Prairie.” Walnut Grove,
County courthouse, Pipestone
one of her childhood homes, has a small museum
dedicated to the author and puts on a pageant based on
Laura’s life here.
A few miles southeast in Sanborn, there are two
replicas of the small sod houses built by early settlers on
the plains. Highway 14 between Mankato and Lake
Benton has been designated as the Laura Ingalls Wilder
At the tiny village of Currie, an old manually
operated train turntable, steam engine and other train
artifacts are displayed at the
End O Line Railroad Park. A
six-mile trail links the park
to Lake Shetek State Park.
Shetek, which means
“pelican” in the Ojibwe
language, is the largest lake
in southwestern Minnesota
and is popular for swimming
and fishing; boat and canoe
antique shops are
among the finds.
rentals are available. More railroading history is found at
the Wheels Across the Prairie Museum in nearby Tracy.
Marshall is the largest city of the area, with
numerous restaurants, accommodations and shopping
opportunities. This area has an abundance of antique
shops, and Marshall offers a guide to antique shopping in
the towns surrounding the city. The Marshall Area Fine
Arts Council presents exhibits at its Art Center, offers a
series of concerts and other performances, and features
work from area artists at its gift shop. Marshall is also
home to Southwest Minnesota State University, which
has a natural history museum. Ten miles south of town is
Camden State Park, a wooded river valley and a good
place to see woodland and prairie wildflowers.
The Hole-in-the-Mountain Prairie near the town of
Lake Benton is another good place to view prairie
grasses and wildflowers and the butterflies and birds they
attract. The town is also home to a restored 1896 opera
house with a regular schedule of concerts and plays.
Lake Benton and other Lincoln County towns are good
places to look for antique shops.
This area of the state is capitalizing on another
natural resource, abundant wind. Hundreds of sleek, tall
wind towers rise up along the Buffalo Ridge. The wind
farms can be spotted from Highways 75 and 14 near
Lake Benton and along Co. Rd. 1 south of Hendricks.
The Midwest Center for Wind Energy south of
Hendricks and the Heritage Center in downtown Lake
Benton both have wind exhibits that explain this