Southwestern MN

Charles Bennett and Daniel Sweet founded Pipestone, MN in 1876.  By 1890, Pipestone had train service on four different rail lines and had become a travel and business center hub for southwestern Minnesota.  A lot of the buildings within the city are constructed with local Sioux quartzite. The county courthouse, built in 1899, is made from this stone and is considered the most stylized of the quartzite buildings located in the city. It is rectangular in shape with a 110-ft clock tower topped with a dome and a statue of Lady Justice.

Pipestone county courthouseHistoric American Buildings Survey, HABS MINN,59-PISTO,1-E-1

Another building constructed with the Sioux quartzite stone is Moore Block which was built in 1896.  This 25 foot by 85 foot building was built by Leon H. Moore, a local businessman who owned and operated a Sioux quartzite quarry. One of the more distinctive features of this building are the gargoyles that embellish the north and west facades.
Pipestone MN-5931Within the grounds of the Hiawatha Pageant, the”Song of the Hiawatha” was performed for the last time in 2008 due to the lack of volunteers, funding, and attendance. For 60 years, busloads of tourists were brought to this small town in Southwest MN.

Hiawatha Pageant grounds-5737

After exploring Pipestone, we decided to make our way to Blue mounds State Park. It was a gorgeous, although hot day when we decided to venture out on the hiking trails.  Usually, before visiting a park, we do our research and know the terrain so we are prepared for what comes our way.  This day, we were not prepared and unknown to us, we were about to embark on a 13 mile hike.  Not a problem, but when you are not dressed or prepared for the occasion, it can become difficult.  I remember falling many times due to the slippery shoes I had on my feet, at one point in time- right in a small stream.  Saving my camera came first so my body took the brunt of the fall.  I appreciate Dan not laughing at the time as I’m not sure I could have contained my laughter.  We eventually came up to the visitor’s center where I washed up and we both grabbed some water to quench our thirst. I would like to revisit that state park and come prepared.  Blue Mound State Park has a lot to offer such as one of the last remnants of preserved native prairie, the Sioux quartzite cliffs, wildflowers and cactus, Buffalo, and bird watching.

Blue Mound Pano-5997

Traveling in the Southwestern portion of the state gave way to many interesting finds, as our travels always do.  According to Wikipedia, “this region is a transition zone between the prairies and the Great Plains”.  From hiking trails found in Blue Mounds State Park and appreciating the landscape, to exploring southwestern cities such as Luverne, Marshall, and Pipestone to absorb the history and architecture, we stumbled upon many surprises along the way that of course we had to capture.

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Chasing Ghost Stories, Faribault, MN

Dan and I enjoy photographing abandoned properties immensely.  The excitement of stepping back into history, and the wonder of what transpired in these ruins can be mind-boggling.

Research is key in finding and exploring abandoned properties.  Ohhhh, the Internet… What a wonderful place for information, sometimes.  As I was briefly searching that morning, (yes, I have to own up to this one) I came across rumors of an old abandoned asylum within an hour or so of our home.  What a find, I thought as my heart started beating faster.

Rumor, after rumor, after rumor, I read:

“I was walking through the tunnel and it leads to the old asylum”

“We even went to the other entrance by Teepee Tonka Park but did not find the tunnel leading up to the asylum”

“ Then walk through the halls.  With 5-6 rooms to the left and right.  Walk through that then it goes on another trail.  Follow it to your left, it brings you to what I though was the tunnel that people were talking about but it is just a bunker room in the hill.”

As I was reading the posts and information regarding the property, I found that there were no directions posted as to how to reach this place directly and it seemed like there was confusion as to which property they were actually writing about. It was like reading a treasure map; picking information out of this post and obtaining information from another.   No matter what we found on this photography outing, I knew that the day would be fun.  With time running out for the research portion, I gathered what I had (although confusing) and we headed off with the starting point at Teepee Tonka Park in Faribault, MN.  We did find the trail in the back corner of the park and headed on our way.  It was a beautiful sunny day; not too hot, not too cold and we were spending the day exploring as we tried to piece together the bread crumbs found on the internet.

From this trail, we did find the tunnels and ventured through them.  I could have gone the whole day without seeing the bats and spiders, but the experience and the memory made was worth it.  Dan was on his game and took every opportunity to joke with me, whether if it were the noises he made in the complete darkness of the tunnels,  or telling me that there was a bat right above me as I stopped to take a picture, or cracking a joke about how we were chancing ghost stories.  Paybacks can be fun 🙂

We might have not found the old asylum, or whatever the abandoned buildings these posts were actually talking about, and that was okay.  What we did encounter was a superb day spent together as we laughed and we joked.   We got to spend a day in the great outdoors doing what we love…  What could be better than that?  Please take some time and join us on this day as you page through the images below.

London, Milan?? No… Minneapolis, Minnesota

The Minneapolis Warehouse District received its name from the city’s shipping hub years.  The streets are oriented to be parallel to the river, which means they run at a 45-degree angle.  For most of its history, this was an industrial area containing numerous warehouses and factories.

Minneapolis Warehouse District Map

The warehouses that characterize the district are mostly six to eight stories high, and about 62 structures on seven square blocks contribute to the district. These warehouses were used for wholesale and storage of goods related to milling and manufacturing.

 In the 1980s, the Warehouse District was the epicenter of the Minneapolis art scene until the area’s buildings became more commercially desirable in the 1990s. At its peak, the Wyman Building, 400 First Avenue North, was home to more than twenty contemporary art galleries. For more information on the businesses in this area, please visit this site mplswarehouse.com.

Dan and I only walked a few blocks in the Warehouse District of Minneapolis and were quite intrigued by all the colors, textures, and the history in these few blocks.  There is a plethora of images to capture from architecture to street life… If ever in the area, I would highly recommend grabbing your camera and feel the attraction and the beauty that lies in this area.  I hope to be visiting this area again this year.