Louis and Clark drew maps of the Midwest and made their way through the country as America’s first pioneers. Through their findings, they convinced large populations of people to travel to the Midwest and live among the undisturbed beauty of Minnesota. Although that beauty still exists, it has been a bit disturbed over the years to make way for a more modern society. Landmarks still exist to remind us of the past and are carefully preserved for all to enjoy. Although the list of historic landmarks is expansive, these five are worth a trip out to see.
Northern Pacific Depot – Hinckley Fire Museum
106 Old Highway 61
Hinckley, MN 55037
One of history’s largest wildfires took place in Hinckley, Minnesota in 1894. The fire destroyed the growing community of Hinckley and brought the town to the ground in only four hours. A bustling logging town with a busy sawmill, Hinckley was left with over 400 casualties and many severe burns. This moment in history is captured and studied by the Hinckley Fire Museum located in the old Northern Pacific Depot. See the exact replication of the depot that was burned in the fire and learn about how the community rebuilt itself but never forgot this great disaster.
Soudan Underground Mine State Park
1302 McKinley Park Rd.
Soudan, MN 55782
Ever want to visit the underground site of Minnesota’s oldest iron ore mine? Built in 1882, the Soudan Mine takes visitors one and a half miles underground to the site of one of the biggest iron ore mines in the country. Converted into a particle physics lab for use by the University of Minnesota, the underground mine is a fascinating learning experience for all. Learn about the culture of the iron range and the entire iron ore mining operation, including a tour of the buildings and wildlife that surround the area. Enjoy a hiking trail that leads you through the area to the Soudan Iron Formation, another fantastic landmark.
Split Rock Lighthouse
3713 Split Rock Lighthouse Rd.
Two Harbors, MN 55616
Built on the North Shore, the Split Rock Lighthouse was commissioned after a November storm cause over 25 ships to crash into the rocks. The lighthouse and fog signal were constructed in 1910 and operated on a large station of land. The current lighthouse has been restored to its original state and invites visitors from all over the world to learn about and understand lighthouse life. This historic landmark sits in Silver Bay, one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world. Today, it is the most visited lighthouse in the country and it provides a fascinating adventure to those who come for a tour.
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Mille Lacs Kathio State Park
15066 Kathio State Park Rd.
Onamia, MN 56359
Kathio State Park encompasses many acres of territory and includes the Kathio Site, or the ancestral homeland of the Dakota Sioux. Before the Chippewa forced the Sioux to leave the area in the mid-1800s, it was a significant and sacred site to the first residents of the land. Today, the park has become the location of 19 important archaeological sites and a landmark of historical significance. The park is also a great place to observe wildlife and the beautiful landscape once inhabited by a historically important tribe of Native Americans. Enjoy walking tours, view some of the tools and artifacts unearthed at the Kathio Site, and visit the abundant lakes of the area.
Charles Lindbergh House
1620 Lindbergh Dr.
Little Falls, MN 56345
The great aviator Charles Lindbergh, Jr. grew up in Minnesota and had dreams of flying while enjoying the scenery of the Midwest. The Charles Lindbergh House is the location of the aviator’s childhood as well as progressive politician, Charles Lindbergh, Sr. Before the famous 1927 flight across the Atlantic Ocean, Charles Lindbergh enjoyed a boyhood along the trails and parks of Little Falls. Visit this historic landmark that has become a museum of his accomplishments and contains a flight simulator similar to the “Spirit of St. Louis.”
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Andrea Wodele is a freelance writer who has lived in the Twin Cities for the last 10 years. Her hobbies include exercising, driving kids around, watching Minnesota sports, and reading self-help literature. Examiner.com.