Learn about the earliest people who explored this area and Minnesota’s rich Indian heritage at these sites and others in the Minnesota River Valley and southwestern Minnesota.
Fort Ridgely State Park Near Fairfax
507-426-7888 • mnhs.org
The old stone commissary remains standing from the
pioneer fort that played a role in the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862.
Open daily in summer, weekends in Sept. to mid-Oct.
Jeffers Petroglyphs North of Windom
507-628-5591 • mnhs.org
Ancient rock carvings; exhibits on Indian culture and prairie.
Summers, open every day but Tues.;
Fri.-Sun. in May & Sept.
Lower Sioux Agency Near Redwood Falls
507-697-6321 • mnhs.org
State historic site with exhibits on Dakota culture and 1862
U.S.-Dakota War. Fri.-Sun. in summer.
Pipestone National Monument Pipestone
507-825-5464 • nps.gov/pipe
Quarry visited for centuries by various Indian tribes; exhibits
on quarry history, demonstrations of Indian crafts, waterfall.
Treaty Site History Center St. Peter
507-934-2160 • nchsmn.org
Museum and restored prairie at the site of the 1851
U.S.-Dakota treaty, which opened traditional Dakota lands
to settlement. Open daily.
There are exhibits and craft demonstrations at the visitors’
center, and a path winds through the quarries and past a
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, 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 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