Bismarck toward Great River Road – Day 1

  • Post last modified:March 6, 2020

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Bismarck toward Great River Road

Day 1 of trip. Bismarck toward Great River Road.  Made it to Fargo with some stops for sight-seeing. Things you wouldn’t see if you just stayed on the Super Slab to get from here to there. Of course, it rained all day. And the obligatory giants. Still carrying over from Route 66! (What is it about giant statues of people, animals and fictional characters. )  From Harley Davidson Man to Paul Bunyan (not to be confused with the Minnesota Paul Bunyan!).

First Stop – St. Cloud MN

Munsinger Gardens and St. Cloud State University. Didn’t take any pictures of SCSU as it’s just another campus but it’s by the Mississippi River and good looking campus. (I did a short part of the Great River Road but that was because it was on the way.) Note of interest that St. Cloud State is in Division II athletics but it does participate in Division I hockey. The Huskies were in the Frozen Four in 2013. There is only 1 university that competes at Division I level for all sports in MN (University of Minnesota) but there are 4 other universities that compete in Division I hockey. (But it is Minnesota!)

Bismarck to Great River Road
Munsinger Gardens by Mississippi River (See more of the Mississippi River later as the trip continues on to Bismarck toward Great River Road.)
Bismarch to Great River Road
Another Munsinger Garden, with the Garden
Bismarck Great River Road
Heart Garden
Bismarck Great River Road
Sculpture in the garden
Munsigner Gardens
Picturesque trail in the gardens

St. Cloud is a metropolitan area of about 200,000 people. It is also considered part of the Twin Cities Combined Statistical Area. In addition to being a college town, there are a number of industries located here. Have family members here but had never heard of the Munsinger Gardens. Great place to stop.

Alexandria MN

Kensington Runestone Museum (More description at end of the pictures)

Bismarck toward Great River Road
Native American Living Location
Bismarck toward Great River Road
Kensington Runestone
Bismarck toward Great River Road
Close up view of the Kensington Runestone
Bismarck toward Great River Road
Side view of runestone
Bismarck Great River Road
Runestone definition from scientific research on the stone
Great River Road
Explanation of route used by the Vikings to get to Minnesota (And you thought it was because they were approved by the NFL!)
Great River Road
Depiction of Viking family as they may have appeared.
Bismarck toward Great River Road
Discovery of the stone

Runestone Controversy

The Runestone has been wrapped in controversy over the years. In the early days, many proclaimed that Olof Ohman, the farmer who discovered it, made it himself. Many studies have been performed and much research has been done. In the early and mid-1900’s, some of the “runes” on the stone were not identified as coming from the 1300’s, the period of time identified on the stone.

Recent findings on Runestone

Over more recent times, researchers in Europe have discovered that all the runes on the stone are in fact identified as belonging to that period of time. While there are still naysayers, most scientists now believe the stone to be genuine and that Vikings did visit and probably live in the area in the 1300’s. The stone is dated 1362 and references are made to several years around that time.  French fur traders were also puzzled by blonde Native Americans. These are likely Viking descendents who remained with the Native American Nations when other Vikings had returned to Europe. On to Bismarck toward Great River Road.

Bismarck toward Great River Road

Obligatory T-Shirt – And if you are of Scandinavian ancestry you probably want one!

Great River Road

Big Ole in Alexandria – Here we move to the less serious side of the heritage.  In keeping with Americans loving their statues of giant people, giant animals and giant mythical characters, Alexandria has Big Ole. 

Alexandria MN is a farming and resort community. It has an estimated population of about 13,000 people in the city and a total county population of about 37,000. Most importantly, due to the popularity of the surrounding lakes, in the summer the temporary “population” can be 2 to 3 times that. On to Bismarck toward Great River Road.

Fergus Falls MN

Fergus Falls MN
Otto the Otter is found on  the shore of a small lake in a park in Fergus Falls. The otter was conceived as a high school shop project and became a community project. It was completed in 1972. Fergus Falls is the county seat of Ottertail County. The name came from the land shape where the Ottertail River joins Ottertail Lake. There is a city named Ottertail as well. The current population is about 600 people and it is on the shore of Ottertail Lake. (Authors note: Interestingly, my parents grew up near here and said there is an old legend that Ottertail was once the county seat and people from Fergus Falls came in the dead of night, broke into the courthouse and took all the official county records back to Fergus Falls. Can’t find any reference to that being a fact.)
Angel of Hope Fergus Falls MN
Angel of Hope park – A dedication of children who have died in the area. The stones behind the angel statue have the children’s names engraved. Unfortunately, there is room for more names.
Bismarck Great River Road
It’s still Service Food Market – Went to college in this city briefly “back in the day”. This store was Service Food then and still is today. Some location, same building.
Fergus Theatre
Fergus Theatre – and this is still here as well. Some things never change….

Of course, some things do change! (This wasn’t here when I went to college!)

Some things do change! On to Bismarck toward Great River Road

Rothsay MN

Largest Prairie Chicken

Rothsay Prairie Chicken – Tiny Rothsay MN keeps up with other cities in having a giant “something”. This city of 490 people needed something to celebrate the bi-centennial in 1976. A local resident built this and Rothsay was named (for the year) the Prairie Chicken Capital of the World! Rain was pouring down when taking this picture. Took it out the car window and still got wet!

End of an interesting day. Don’t see things like this if you stay on the interstate! But, decided I wanted to make these part of this road trip. Continue on to Bismarck toward the Great River Road. Here is a link to look ahead to the next post.

The Driveby Tourist

This Post Has 5 Comments

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