Here's a guide to our hidden treasures
Park Rapids ? US Post Office on Highway 71 south of the stoplights was occupied in 1939. In 1940 well-known Minnesota sculptor Alonzo Hauser carved oak figures for the post office on commission by the Works of Public Art (WPA) Project. These larg...
- US Post Office on Highway 71 south of the stoplights was occupied in 1939. In 1940 well-known Minnesota sculptor Alonzo Hauser carved oak figures for the post office on commission by the Works of Public Art (WPA) Project. These large figures depict a lumberjack, an Indian and a scene of lakes, deer and pines and are located in the lobby. The brick building also has granite steps and is topped by a cupola and unique weathervane.
- The Park Rapids National Guard Armory, constructed in 1922, formerly the home of Company C, 2nd Battalion 136th Infantry, is also located on Highway 71 south. The Guard unit here was recognized in May 1947 with 16 enlisted men assigned.
- Original Hubbard County Courthouse, 3rd and Court, was built in 1900. A fine example of Victorian design, it is on the National Register of Historic Buildings. It is the home of the Hubbard County Historical Society and North Country Museum of Arts.
- Original watertower, 2nd and Front, was completed in 1930. During construction of the concrete watertower, a worker fell to his death and several others were injured.
- Fire Bell, displayed in front of the fire hall on Highway 71 south, was presented to the fire department by James B. Cutler in 1895. The Park Rapids Volunteer Fire Department celebrated its centennial in 1991.
- Fish Hook Mill Pond and Dam at Rice Park (and the state fish hatchery) still bear evidence of what was once the site of the town's first sawmill and flour mill. They were built by Franklin C. Rice who came here in 1881 and founded the village of Park Rapids. In 1908 the voters gave Rice the franchise for the town's electricity.
- Fish Hook River Crossing on Highway 34 east was a concrete structure built in 1933. It was replaced in 1987, but the design allowed the city to keep the old-fashioned lampposts that helped make the old bridge unique. Pedestrian traffic sometimes includes geese and ducks.
- Park Rapids has a restaurant you can set your watch by. Schwarzwald Inn on Main street has decked their exterior (and interior) on the theme of Germany's Black Forest (Schwarzwald). A cuckoo appears to announce the time, then retreats for a melody. A woman emerges from the weather house when the sun is shining; a man when it is raining.
- Main Avenue parking, a street wide enough to accommodate center and side parking, is a curiosity and a memorable feature of the town. It is said since Park Rapids originally was a logging community, the street was laid out so wide to allow teamsters to turn their horses around. It also has been said the street was made wide so piles of lumber could be stacked in the center to dry. Both stories may be right.
- Map-ematical error, says resident Jerry Fuller. He had long held the notion, which was passed on to him by his father, that Fish Hook and Potato Lake are misnamed. More specifically, the story he heard as a youngster was that Fish Hook was to be called Potato and vice versa but somehow in the course of map labeling the two names got switched. Actually, there has to be more of a story than that to these two names since there is nothing in the shape of either lake to suggest a fish hook or a potato. More probably the names came from finding objects on the shore or mispronunciation of an Indian name for the lakes.
- Muskie Park, located just north of Highway 34 in Nevis, is the home of the Tiger Muskie erected in the early 1950s. Trees were planted in the park in honor of Nevis' World War I dead and now the park has a veterans memorial with a lighted flagpole, flowerbed, honorarium benches and a walkway. A pavilion was dedicated in the park in 1993 with an enclosed stand for food sales and shelter for picnic tables.
Paul Bunyan's statue on Highway 34 in Akeley is the world's tallest of the legendary woodcutter. He kneels holding his ax in one hand and stretching out his other hand as a seat for picture taking. It was dedicated in 1985 in a ceremony at Memorial Park, which is also the home of Paul's cradle and an historical museum operated by the Paul Bunyan Historical Society.
Trestle bridge is located on the Heartland Trail (parallel to Highway 34) just west of Akeley. It spans water flowing out of 11th Crow Wing Lake, once site of the Red River Lumber Company's giant mill. The company operated a network of logging railroad spurs reaching as far as 25 miles from the Great Northern main line. Many of these abandoned spurs can still be seen in the forests and are used as logging roads and recreational trails today. The Heartland Trail is a multi-use recreational trail from Park Rapids to Walker built on the old Great Northern Railroad right-of-way and maintained by the state.
First English Lutheran Church in Dorset was dedicated in 1936 and is built of hand split field-stone gathered from neighboring farms.
Shell City is about 12 miles south of Dorset just over the Hubbard-Wadena county line and can be reached by traveling south on Hubbard County 11 to Wadena County 24, then east about 1/4 mile on County 152. Signs mark the sites of buildings in this city that is no longer a city, but was once the "Port of the Prairie." The stagecoach passed through here at one time and later Shell City vied with Park Rapids to be the county seat.
Straight Lake is the source of Straight River. The 15 river miles between the dam at Straight Lake and the river's confluence with the Fish Hook River is one of the premier brown trout fisheries in the upper Midwest. To find another river like it, with natural production capabilities and abundant, trophy-sized brown trout, you would have to travel west to the Big Horn River in Wyoming, or east to the Au Sable River in upper Michigan.
Former School on Highway 34 was built in 1938 during the WPA era and has been remodeled for a community center. The building was the center of activity when Osage celebrated its centennial in 1991. The parade was so long, organizers considered having the parade stand still and the spectators walk around so the front would not catch the back and block the streets.
Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes at St. Mary's Church, Two Inlets. The grotto is a replica of the one in France with life-size statues of our Lady and Saint Bernadette, Stations of the Cross set in fieldstone frames and an outdoor altar.
Bad Medicine Lake
In 2004 a kiosk and historical marker commemorating the nearby Lovelis Lake CCC Camp will be added in the parking area of the lake's public access, 10 miles west of Highway 71 on Highway 113 in northern Becker County. The first historical marker at the access was dedicated in 1985 to commemorate the lake's history and beauty. Its history includes legends of serpentine fish and monster pike, tales about logging giant white pine stands and forest fires that followed the logging operations. It also is known as one of the clearest and least polluted lakes in Minnesota. Bad Medicine Lake is located 1 1/2 miles east of the Laurentian Divide separating the Hudson Bay and Mississippi River watersheds.