Year-Round History: MN Museums, Historical Sites To Visit This Fall

By Amy Rea

Summer is the full season for Minnesota Historical Society’s locations around the state. But there are several that remain partially open, or have special events, in the off-season. Here are a few places you can get your history fix. Note that for special events, reservations may be required.

Of course, the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul is open year-round, as is the Mill City Museum and the Minnesota State Capitol. The History Center has its WWI America exhibit open through Nov. 11, and beginning Dec. 23, 1968 will return.

Also open year-round is St. Paul’s James J. Hill House, which is always worth a visit in any season. Besides scheduled public tours, the property offers a robust line-up of special events, especially when the December holidays arrive.

Just outside of St. Peter, Traverse des Sioux is open daily year-round for self-guided tours. The adjacent Treaty Site History Center, which is well worth a visit, is open Mon-Sat through the winter, with the exception of about 3 weeks around the December holidays.

Neighboring Alexander Ramsey House may not have regular scheduled tours, but operates with a full slate of special events on a regular basis, including monthly History Happy Hours, Ramsey After Dark, and History Chef!.

The North West Company Fur Post near Pine City will be open weekends through September, but also offers special events beyond that, including October’s Mystery at the Fur Post and special MEA weekend tours.

Everyone’s favorite North Shore icon, Split Rock Lighthouse, is open daily through October, then open weekends after that through the end of the year. There’s a special event commemorating the Edmund Fitzgerald each year on Nov. 10, when the lighthouse’s beacon is lighted in honor of the lost ship.

The Forest History Center near Grand Rapids is open Saturdays through the winter. The site also hosts off-season special events, including Into the Woods and Christmas in the Logging Camp.

The Oliver Kelley Farm in Elk River is open weekends through October and has quite a bit of special programming available. Besides its basic mission of teaching about life on an 1860s farm, visitors can also learn how to turn sorghum into molasses and celebrate harvest days. Later in the fall, there will be special events around Thanksgiving and Christmas on the farm.

The tiny W.W. Mayo House in Le Sueur is open Saturdays through September. (Seriously, it’s tiny.)

The Marine Mill in Marine on St. Croix will be open daily through October, and what better time to visit the St. Croix River area than when the fall leaves are turning?

Fort Ridgely will be open weekends through Oct. 15, as is New Ulm’s Harkin Store. Open Saturdays only through October are Moorhead’s Comstock House and Historic Forestville. But there are only 2 Saturdays left to visit the Jefferson Petroglyphs near Comfrey.

Historic Fort Snelling is open Saturdays through October. There are also several special events taking place through the fall and winter, including History on the Go Bus Tour, CSI Fort Snelling, and several lectures and panel discussions.

The Mille Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post is open Wed-Sat through October, and has a good many special events coming up, including Wild Rice Processing and kids’ crafts workshops.

The Birch Coulee Battlefield near Morton will be open to the public through October. The Battlefield, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, offers self-guided tours daily at the site of one of the most memorable battles of the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862. Also near Morton is the Lower Sioux Agency, which will be open Fri-Sun through the first weekend of October.

General tours at the Charles A. Lindbergh Historic Site are done for the year, but the site will host several special events, including a WWI Christmas and a New Year’s Eve Candlelight Snowshoe and Hike.

Near Montevideo, Lac qui Parle Mission will be open daily through September.

What else is happening in our state? Be sure to check out the 10 p.m. Sunday night WCCO newscasts, where you can learn more in the weekly segment, Finding Minnesota.

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