Lac qui Parle State Park (Minnesota) 15-May-2023

The Hiking Club route at Lac qui Parle State Park sits in the lowlands at the confluence of the Lac qui Parle River and a lake formed in the Minnesota River by a low dam. Most of the time this route is just above the level of the lake. Today, however, thanks to the flooding we had this year, it was still under the lake.

We had hoped that by the time we got here, the waters would have receded enough to allow for a hike. But, unless we wanted to swim, no joy. We tried to drive to the trailhead but were turned away by heavy equipment working to restore the Lower Campground.

So we got the Club password from the Park Office – and thus got credit for our visit without doing any hiking. 😞 Even though it’s visits, and not miles hiked, that ultimately count toward completion of the Hiking Club quest, this just didn’t seem quite right.

So, to do a little something to earn our Password, we took short hikes to see: (1) the Minnesota State Record Cottonwood Tree (32 feet (9.8 m) circumference 😲), (2) the site of Fort Renville, and (3) the Lac qui Parle mission building. Along the way we would garner unwanted extra credit by being ravaged by ravenous mosquitoes. 🦟😒

Record Cottonwood Tree

We go boldly toward the giant Cottonwood, oblivious to the winged horrors that lay ahead 🦟πŸ₯Ί
A photo of the giant tree taken between arm waves and swats
One more shot and then we ran away… 🦟

Site of Fort Renville

Joseph Reville, son of a French trader and a Dakota woman, began trading for furs on the shore of Lac qui Parle in 1826. He was one of the founders of the American Fur Company and played an essential role in establishing the mission here in 1835. Only scant traces of the fort remain.

After applying bug repellent, we descend to see the former site of Fort Renville
Lac qui Parle Lake from near the former site of Fort Renville
The temporarily underwater Hiking Club route is in those trees across the lake
Looking out across the lake from the Fort Renville viewing platform

Lac qui Parle Mission Building

The Lac qui Parle Sioux Mission was founded within the Fort Renville stockade in July 1835. There, the missionaries translated the Gospel and several hymns into the Dakota language. They also completed the first dictionary of that language.

That the locals already had a long-held, complex, and comforting belief system of their own often seems to have escaped such missionaries. πŸ€”

The mission building that was in the stockade is long gone, but the Works Progress Administration (WPA) reconstructed one a little ways down the road when this area became a state park in 1941. It’s this “new” one that we saw today.

The reconstructed mission building today (Minnesota Historical Society photo)

We had now amassed enough historical information – and mosquito bites – to keep us busy thinking and scratching while we drove to Upper Sioux Agency – the last state park on today’s agenda. Any mosquito attempting to hitch a ride with us was promptly flushed out a window – hopefully to be quickly eaten by a passing bird. 😈😁


4 thoughts on “Lac qui Parle State Park (Minnesota) 15-May-2023

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  1. Thanks! And, yes, you’d think that, after 150 or so years, we’d have learned to believe what we want to be believe and let others believe what they want to believe, without trying to inflict our beliefs on them. I’d say there’s more than a “whiff” of the latter here these days…πŸ˜’


  2. Almost shockingly green — such a transformation and such lovely pictures. The missionaries probably felt a duty to rid people of their ‘false’ traditional beliefs and instill the ‘true’ ones that they themselves believed. I deplore it, but I can understand how if you were a fervent believer, you’d be obliged to put others on that path (in those times, anyway, when everything was black and white; still strong whiffs of that in your country, as you know).


  3. Well, the mosquitoes were going to arrive eventually 😯 – but they’re a lot easier to deal with than the deer and black flies. It’s somewhat amazing that Minnesota has its own cactus species – that speaks to the diversity of habitats in a state that a lot of people think is either one big prairie, Lake Superior, or always frozen. πŸ™„ We missed the cacti at at Big Stone but hope to see some when we visit the parks in SW MN later this year. 😊


  4. Too bad about the mosquitoes. It is an interesting park. When I was there last year I had no bugs but I camped there and just had a lot of wind and then a thunder storm. Another good place to visit out there is Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge, where you can see 2 of the 3 native species of Minnesota cacti, the ball or pin-cushion cactus and one of the prickly pear species.


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