Returning to our trip out to SW Minnesota a couple weeks ago, out final stop was at Pipestone National Monument. This is a site that is dedicated to the ancient mining of catlinite ore that is used to create ceremonial Native American pipes. This is a soft stone that is easy to work with. If you’ve ever held a “worry stone” it feels very similar to catlinite.
The monument consists of a 3/4 of a mile path that leads you through the historic quarries where the ore was mined. To this day, catlinite is still mined in the traditional fashion, by hand, and used by artists to create their works. Along the trail you also get to learn about the first survey crew, led by Joseph Nicollett, and their writings about the area. You also get to see some interesting rock formations that look like the faces of people.
Overall, this was a fun stop, and we spent some time in the gift shop when we were done. All of the artifacts were carved by local artists, and with every piece that you buy, you get a biography of the artist and their history with the tribe. I picked up a small magnet in the shape of Minnesota to bring home and put on my fridge.