Minnesota Great River Road – Scenic Region

[narr] Little Falls is near the geographic center and is one of the oldest cities in the state. The first dam was built here in 1848 to power industries and attract settlers. This hydroelectric station was built in 1920. [woman] When the settlers first came here, the river is what drew them. So they situated on Little Falls because of the falls. Our forefathers started a mill here, it was a flour mill at the time, eventually it turned into logging. And so the Weyerhaeuser-Musser Pine Tree Lumber Company was here and it definitely was the river that brought them here. [narr] The boyhood home of Charles Lindbergh is here. The home and museum are open to the public. Across the street is the Charles A. Lindbergh State Park, dedicated to the famous aviator’s father, a prominent politician. Some of the downtown buildings are painted with murals, and while you’re downtown admiring them you should stop in and visit the Minnesota Fishing Museum. [woman] As you come into the museum, one of the things that you will see is our collection of record fish. These are the Minnesota state record catches, no they are not the originals, for some reason when somebody catches a record fish they like to keep it themselves. We have a little cabin set around 1929-30, pre-electricity; when going up north was a lot more rustic then it is today. Another feature of the museum is our diorama. It’s a separate room which contains a nice setting with spear fishing and angling for the winter months all set-up. [woman] We have the Pine Grove Zoo, which is the second oldest zoo in the state of Minnesota. [man] The Dam Festival that’s held in June every year in Maple Island park is a great festival. So Little Falls has a lot to offer when it comes to the river and the Great River Road. [woman] It’s a good place to come and relax and sit back and just enjoy and watch the Mississippi flow by. [man] This past year St. Cloud, Sartell, and Saux Rapids all came together and worked on creating a plan for the riverfront development. How to protect the resource and the scenic value of the river, but at the same time this is a real treasure that flows through our communities. How do we get citizens down to it? How do we get businesses to orient themselves to the river? [narr] For the past three years, local sports clubs, businesses, Stearns and Benton counties along with the Stearns County Soil and Water Conservation District, have teamed up with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to host a “Take a Day off on the Mississippi River” event. Over 1300 people took the opportunity to try some canoeing, fishing, kayaking, archery, and more. Each year the number of participants has grown. While you’re in the area, you got to stop at the Clemmons-Munsinger Gardens on the east bank in St.Cloud. The Munsinger Gardens date from 1915, when the city purchased the former site of a sawmill. The gardens were primarily constructed in the 30’s by the WPA, the Works Progress Administration. The adjacent Clemmons Gardens were developed in the 90’s by Bill and Virginia Clemmons, who then donated them to the city. They include six gardens in formal European style with American plantings. [swans honk] [narr] Another citizen inspired act of conservation takes place just downriver in Monticello. The Trumpeter Swan is a threatened species that is rapidly recovering thanks in large part to one person. Each winter, up to 1500 of these graceful birds come to this place on the Mississippi for two reasons. First, there is open water because of the nearby power plant, and second, Shelia Lawrence fed them daily all winter for more than 20 years. Shelia died in the spring of 2011, but her husband, Jim, plans to continue the feeding. [man] Get up! [narr] Want some “hands on” early European settler farming experience? Stop in at the Oliver Kelley Farm site outside of Elk River. [man] Well the Kelley Farm is the oldest working farm left in Minnesota. It was started in 1850 by Oliver and Lucy Kelley. Today it is a national historic landmark and a state historic site. We have the farmstead restored as close as we can to the 1860s time period when the Kelley family was busy farming here. And as a visitor, as a family, you can come out and explore and participate in the same kind of activities that your own family may have done on this farm 150 years ago. [narr] There is so much more to learn about this area and the rest of the Great River Road. For more information, visit our website: mnmississippiriver.com

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