Ortonville, Minn. (WCCO) — The State Fair starts a week from Thursday. That means it’s time to wrap up our summer roadtrip around Minnesota and western Wisconsin, and we might even sneak in a third state this week.
Mike Max and Frank Vascellaro headed to Ortonville this week. It’s a few hours straight west, right on the border with South Dakota. Ortonville has been a city since 1881. It’s the county seat of Big Stone County. About 2,000 people live here. This week will see a lot more for Cornfest. That really gets going tomorrow.
Ortonville Golf Course
Thursday is men’s night at the Ortonville Golf Course. Women’s night was last night.
You want spectacular views when you’re playing 18? Come here. And when you’re done playing, sit out on the patio, grab a drink, and watch all your friends struggle home on 18. They serve lunch, dinner and drinks here Tuesday through Saturday.
Granite In Big Stone County
There’s a good reason this area in far western Minnesota is named “Big Stone County.” It’s naturally filled with beautiful, brown granite.
Rausch Brothers Granite is in the business of taking what comes from pits 180 feet deep and turning it into memories that will last for generations. Mike Rausch is the third generation to run the family business, and he’s seen a lot of change during his time in charge.
Big Stone Lake Wildlife
Big Stone Lake is a big draw for the Ortonville area. It forms part of the border between Minnesota and South Dakota, and it’s a big lake — about 26 miles from the southern end all the way up north.
About 15 miles away is a great place to stop with the family. Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge is in the heart of tallgrass prairie country. It’s here to maintain and restore native prairie habitat. That makes this a great place for waterfowl. Stop by for a visit when you’re in the area!
Lakeshore RV Park
There aren’t resorts out here, but plenty of people with cabins on the lake. And if you don’t own a cabin, you can always spend the summer in the camper.
Lakeshore RV Park is a home away from home for travelers all summer long. The park has 65 seasonal sites. Many families make it a tradition to come to the RV park to enjoy the lake and the natural beauty of the area.
Big Stone County Museum
Towns like Ortonville really celebrate their history. A great place to learn more about the heritage and culture here is the Big Stone County Museum.
Mike Max likes to hunt ducks and geese out in western Minnesota and South Dakota, so he enjoyed the collection Charles Hanson put together. More than 500 types of birds are in the collection, including every type of waterfowl found in North America. Hanson did most of the taxidermy himself. The building used to be a general store in a nearby town. Hanson donated it to the museum in town so others could enjoy the work he has been doing for 60 years.
Another building at the museum is a one-room schoolhouse, and our crew met a special woman when they went there Wednesday. Valina Jorgenson, 101, went to school there from 1920 to 1929. She told us it seemed awfully big at the time, but not so much anymore. And she said not much has changed. The little desks and big desks used to be on the opposite side of the room. Jorgenson is looking great for her age, and she was sharp as a tack. Her granddaughters were visiting from California, and she gave a great tour.
Headwater’s Jailhouse Winery
There was some rainy weather in Ortonville Thursday, so Frank and Mike decided to go make some wine in jail … Headwater’s Jailhouse Winery that is!