Historic Forestville

Historic Forestville Located in Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park. Now opened on Saturdays in May, September & October. Core season -Memorial Day Weekend - Labor Day - Thursdays Fridays, Satuday & Sundays Educational & Group Tours by reservation only April - October Historic Forestville is a 1st person living history museum operated by the Minnesota Historical Society.
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Travel back in time to the year 1899 and chat with costumed guides portraying actual residents. Browse authentic merchandise in the Meighen General Store or feel the warmth and enjoy the aroma of a 19th –century working kitchen.

Operating as usual

Here are some photos of the work happening around the site. We have work happening on four buildings right now. A big th...
08/28/2020

Here are some photos of the work happening around the site. We have work happening on four buildings right now. A big thank you to Norse Valley Construction out of Chatfield for their good work on this project. We couldn’t be more excited to see the finished product when it gets to that point.

The restoration work at Forestville is still moving along.  Wadsworth Construction is doing an amazing job restoring win...
08/18/2020

The restoration work at Forestville is still moving along. Wadsworth Construction is doing an amazing job restoring windows all over the site. Pictured is one of our windows on our 1894 barn.

Here are some photos of a recent hike on one of the trails near Historic Forestville in Forestville/Mystery Cave State P...
07/11/2020

Here are some photos of a recent hike on one of the trails near Historic Forestville in Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park. A huge thank you goes out to our friends at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for all the work that they put into making our state parks beautiful places to be.

Having a sawmill in a developing town was important as a source of building materials for its new residents. The first s...
07/08/2020

Having a sawmill in a developing town was important as a source of building materials for its new residents. The first sawmill was built by Forest Henry and William Renslow in 1854. An advertisement in The History of Fillmore County published in 1858 listed it as a place that had lumber, lath, and shingles for sale. Pictured are the ruins of that first sawmill taken ca. 1900.

Also pictured is the last Saw Mill that existed in Forestville that was built by Thomas Meighen & Herman Luedtke in 1892. It stood a little west of the bridge across the Root River and was powered by a traction steam engine that cost $250 or $7201 in today’s money.

The wagon barn has a new roof!
07/07/2020

The wagon barn has a new roof!

Pictured is former US Senator Magnus Johnson speaking at a campaign rally in Forestville in 1923 on his way to being ele...
07/03/2020

Pictured is former US Senator Magnus Johnson speaking at a campaign rally in Forestville in 1923 on his way to being elected to the United States Senate. Magnus Johnson was a member of Minnesota’s Farmer-Labor Party, which was a progressive and somewhat successful third party that was organized around the needs of struggling workers and farmers. Between 1924 and 1944 numerous party members were elected to state and national offices including Senator Johnson, who served in both the United States Senate and House of Representatives, and Governor Floyd Olson who served as governor from 1930-1936. The party effectively dissolved in 1944 when the Farmer Labor Party merged with the Democratic Party in Minnesota to form the Democratic Farmer Labor Party (DFL).

For more information on the Farmer Labor Party check out the article on MNopedia: https://bit.ly/2Z8cL07

One of the most important artisans in any new town was its blacksmith.  The earliest known blacksmith in Forestville was...
07/01/2020

One of the most important artisans in any new town was its blacksmith. The earliest known blacksmith in Forestville was Canadian born Francis Fletcher who served as a blacksmith from 1857-1859. In 1859 he defaulted on a loan from Felix Meighen he was forced to sign over his shop and equipment which forced him to move on. A handful of blacksmiths came and went while Meighen owned that shop, at a rate of about $1.50 per month paid to Meighen, up until William Renslow bought it from him for a horse, harness and buggy that had a value of $60. We don’t have a record of who the blacksmiths of Forestville were after Renslow bought the property but in the picture of the blacksmith shop attached to this post one of the men is Ira Keeler who was one of Renslow’s business partners.

A few weeks ago we had Haakenson Electric, from Preston, on-site to do some work for our construction project.  They ext...
06/29/2020

A few weeks ago we had Haakenson Electric, from Preston, on-site to do some work for our construction project. They extended our electricity across the road from the store and for the first time in its 126 year history our barn now has been electrified! Now that we will be able to have lights in the barn it’ll be much easier to take groups through to show it off and hold small events in there once we’re able to reopen.

One of the best views in Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park is at the overlook just a short 15 to 20-minute hike from H...
06/27/2020

One of the best views in Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park is at the overlook just a short 15 to 20-minute hike from Historic Forestville. It'd be a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon if you're still looking for something to do today.

After the railroad decided to take their line north of Forestville and people started moving away Forestville found a 2n...
06/24/2020

After the railroad decided to take their line north of Forestville and people started moving away Forestville found a 2nd life as a company farming operation. The Meighen’s owned over 1000 acres of land by 1890 and it was said that Thomas Meighen could walk from Forestville to Leroy, about 25 miles, without leaving his family's land.

Our large barn, now part of an exterior restoration project, was the largest building in Fillmore County when built in 1894. At one time, it held a stable for horses, a dairy operation, and had ample storage for hay and crops like wheat, corn, and oats that were grown on the farm.

06/22/2020
Forestville Distillery Stream

A peaceful sound for a Monday morning. This small stream runs right by one of the trails where Forestville's distillery used to sit.

Split Rock Lighthouse and Jeffers Petroglyphs will reopen July 15, staffing decisions announced. Please read the press r...
06/17/2020
Split Rock Lighthouse, Jeffers Petroglyphs to Reopen July 15

Split Rock Lighthouse and Jeffers Petroglyphs will reopen July 15, staffing decisions announced. Please read the press release for more information. https://www.mnhs.org/media/news/12041

In light of the Governor’s recent lifting of restrictions regarding museums and outdoor spaces, Split Rock Lighthouse and Jeffers Petroglyphs will once again be open for visitors beginning July 15. Birch Coulee Battlefield, Traverse des Sioux, and Marine Mill outdoor trails are already open to the...

An important part of the project going on at Forestville is to stabilize our historic barn that was built in 1894.  Toda...
06/11/2020

An important part of the project going on at Forestville is to stabilize our historic barn that was built in 1894. Today work began on rebuilding what was a crumbling northeast corner.

06/01/2020

A week ago, George Floyd was murdered. To the Floyd family, we express our heartfelt condolences. We share the deep hurt that our friends, family, and community are feeling in the wake of Mr. Floyd’s death.

We know that these are historic times. But sadly, Minnesota’s history is marked by other incidences of racial violence. We know the names of Philando Castile, Jamar Clark, and now George Floyd, by heart. We should also know the names of Elias Clayton, Elmer Jackson, and Isaac McGhie. Two weeks from today, June 15, marks 100 years since a white mob in Duluth lynched these three black men who had been falsely accused of a crime.

Understanding history matters more than ever in times like these. It is a lens through which we view the experiences of others and empathize with their struggles and triumphs. It is a way that we build a deeper understanding of the events that brought us to the crossroads we find ourselves in today. It challenges us to demand better from our community, from our civic and cultural institutions and perhaps, most importantly, from ourselves.

History can be a bridge that lets us cross the divides that separates us. At the Minnesota Historical Society, we commit to using the power of history to help Minnesota become a more reflective, inclusive and empathetic community.

Kent Whitworth, MNHS Director and CEO

This Thursday we're going to take a look at an item that's hanging in the store.  What is the netting that's hanging ove...
05/28/2020

This Thursday we're going to take a look at an item that's hanging in the store. What is the netting that's hanging over the post?

Recreational fishing around Forestville has been a popular past time for as long as there have been people here. The ear...
05/26/2020

Recreational fishing around Forestville has been a popular past time for as long as there have been people here. The earliest reference to the state stocking fish that we've been able to find dates to May 4, 1880, when R.O. Sweeny of the Minnesota Fish Commissioners wrote to Thomas Meighen promising to send brook trout for Forestville's streams.

Thanks to the generous support from the Carl and Verna Schmidt Fundation in Rochester, one of the things that we will be...
05/23/2020

Thanks to the generous support from the Carl and Verna Schmidt Fundation in Rochester, one of the things that we will be working on over the course of the Spring/Summer here at Forestville is improving access to the Root River from our historic site. The photos show the beautiful spot where you’ll end up at the end of the trail.

This is sitting in the kitchen of the house and is really important for the morning routine.  What is it?
05/21/2020

This is sitting in the kitchen of the house and is really important for the morning routine. What is it?

Along with having a great story, Historic Forestville is full of all kinds of artifacts.  On Thursday’s we’re going to s...
05/14/2020

Along with having a great story, Historic Forestville is full of all kinds of artifacts. On Thursday’s we’re going to start posting pictures of what we think are interesting things and let you all take a guess at what they are in the comments. The clue for our first photo: this object in the office.

A picture of John Lind is hanging on the wall of the office in the Meighen residence. The Populists in Minnesota endorse...
05/11/2020

A picture of John Lind is hanging on the wall of the office in the Meighen residence. The Populists in Minnesota endorsed Lind on his run for governor. As Thomas Meighen was a prominent populist we know that Lind dined at Forestville on a few occasions during his 1899 campaign. For more info on John Lind, you can read all about him on MNopedia: https://bit.ly/2xKa0Iz

The exterior preservation project at Forestville has begun! There is a lot that will be happening over the next few mont...
05/08/2020

The exterior preservation project at Forestville has begun! There is a lot that will be happening over the next few months, so we will be posting picture updates here on Facebook. While the site is closed, you can also check out the progress for yourself next time you're hiking or riding at the state park.

05/06/2020

Good Morning! Many people are talking about extra cleaning and organizing during the stay at home orders. Did you know that in the 1800's keeping a "perfect" home was what most women aspired to. The Buckeye Cookery and Practical Housekeeping published in 1880 has this to say: "Housekeeping, whatever may be the opinions of the butterflies of the period, is an accomplishment in comparison to which, in its bearing on woman's relationship to real life and to the family, all others are trivial. It comprehends all that goes to make up a well-ordered home, where the sweetest relations of life rest on firm foundations, and the purest sentiments thrive."

Don't you just love the reference to the "butterflies"? Do you think they may have been referencing the suffragettes?

05/03/2020
KSMQ's "Off 90" Episode 1103

To our friends who do not live locally; if you would like to see a short segment from our Women of Forestville tour, here is the link. It starts at 1:15 into the program.

https://youtu.be/WZoFx3DNVLg

In this episode of Off 90: A look at the lives of pioneer women in Historic Forestville, a dredging project in Albert Lea, a magazine for pet lovers, artist ...

Thanks to Don Paulsen for sharing this early morning photo of Forestville from earlier this Spring.  It is a great shot ...
04/29/2020

Thanks to Don Paulsen for sharing this early morning photo of Forestville from earlier this Spring. It is a great shot of the Meighen barn and Milky Way.

04/25/2020

Hello Historic Forestville Friends and Fans.
If you are interested in viewing a segment of the Women of Forestville tour on the show Off 90 from KSMQ out of Austin on channel 15.1 on local channels, tune in this evening at 5:00 pm. For those that live further away, it will hopefully be on their website next week.

We are living in a historic moment. The Minnesota Historical Society is collecting and preserving Minnesotans’ stories r...
04/24/2020

We are living in a historic moment. The Minnesota Historical Society is collecting and preserving Minnesotans’ stories related to the COVID-19 health crisis so future generations can learn how the pandemic has impacted our lives. We invite you to read a sampling of these stories here and to share your story by clicking the link http://www.mnhs.org/blog/historyisnow. #HistoryIsNow

04/23/2020

This recipe from the Buckeye Cookery goes out to Marla who mentioned in a comment that it was a favorite of hers.
Tin-Wedding Cake
One cup butter and three of sugar to a cream; add one cup milk, four of flour, five eggs, one tea-spoon cream tarter, half tea-spoon soda, one fourth pound citron. This makes two loaves.--Mrs. J.H. Ferris, South Norwalk, Conn.

What the heck is citron? It is a melon easily grown in gardens. However, it is not sweet, so it is made palatable by candying it in heavy syrup and then used for baking. We often told visitors that it was the clear fruit in fruitcake. It is still used today in most fruitcake recipes and can be found in the baking aisle. The recipe above calls for loaves, but also bakes well in a small bunt like pan. It is much like pound cake with a sweet surprise!

For the continued safety of our staff and visitors, we have decided to keep our historic sites, museums, and library clo...
04/16/2020
COVID-19 Update

For the continued safety of our staff and visitors, we have decided to keep our historic sites, museums, and library closed and cancel all in-person events, field trips and rentals through June 30. This is in response to ongoing concerns over maintaining recommended social distancing practices in our public locations.

MNHS will also furlough a number of staff starting May 1 through June 30. To learn more visit our website at mnhs.org/covid-19.

The health and safety of our guests, volunteers, and staff is our highest priority. MNHS is closely monitoring developments related to COVID-19, and we are in regular contact with local and state health officials.

The view from the trails in the hills to the east of Historic Forestville.  You can just see the buildings through the t...
04/13/2020

The view from the trails in the hills to the east of Historic Forestville. You can just see the buildings through the trees.

About a ¼ mile north of the Forestville general store there is a small parcel of land surrounded by trees. This was the ...
04/09/2020

About a ¼ mile north of the Forestville general store there is a small parcel of land surrounded by trees. This was the site of another Forestville School House. It was built in 1857 with bricks that came from John Gill’s Forestville brickyard for the cost of $500. Teachers at the school included Milford Benham, the school’s first teacher, and Robert Brown, a Civil War veteran. The school reached its peak under Brown in the late 1860s when it was called the best school in Fillmore County. Forestville outgrew the brick school by the late 1870’s and was vacated by 1880 when the Forestville graded school was built about 3 blocks north. The brick school stood until the late 1890’s when the building was torn down because of its poor condition.
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Pictured is the spot where it stood the morning of April 9th 2020, and the brick school house as it looked a short time before it was torn down ca. 1895.

04/06/2020

Monday greetings! Today I would like to share a favorite recipe from the Buckeye Cookery:
Spoon Biscuit-One quart sour milk or buttermilk, one teaspoon soda, a little salt, two tablespoons of lard and enough flour for a stiff batter; drop in a gem pan and bake in a quick oven. -Mrs. A.B. Morey.

You may notice recipes were much different in the 1800's. It was expected that you knew the basics of baking and cooking.

Now I will translate the recipe: 4 cups milk with 2 tablespoons of vinegar, or 4 cups of buttermilk, one teaspoon soda, (I would double this) 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 2 tablespoons of lard (or butter) about 7 cups of flour. The reason an exact amount of flour was never given is because there were not standard measuring devices, so it depended on the vessels that were used and also outside factors such as humidity. A gem pan is like a muffin tin and a quick oven is about 400 degrees and they should bake 15-20 minutes or until they are a light golden brown.
This will make a LOT of biscuits! As a modern twist consider adding shredded cheddar cheese and garlic salt. Yum!

Another interesting Forestville landmark out on the trails is Zumbro Hills Cemetery, which was established on land donat...
04/02/2020

Another interesting Forestville landmark out on the trails is Zumbro Hills Cemetery, which was established on land donated by Major Foster ca. 1855. It is located about one mile north of the visitor center at Historic Forestville. Forestville did not have a church, with services held in people’s homes, so many residents chose to be buried in church cemeteries in nearby towns like Carimona. There were about 35 burials in Zumbro Hills Cemetery with 19 legible stones. The earliest burial that we can see belongs to Hokah Bassett who was just over 1 year old when she died in 1856. Cemetery records from Zumbro Hills no longer exist so we’re not sure how she died but it’s a very sad reminder of how hard life could be during this time.

Historic Forestville's cover photo
04/01/2020

Historic Forestville's cover photo

Signs of the town of Forestville are all over the trails at Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park.  These steps and founda...
03/30/2020

Signs of the town of Forestville are all over the trails at Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park. These steps and foundation belonged to the Forestville Graded School and are found north of our historic site. This was the second school in Forestville built for $1,800 on this spot in 1878 and primarily took in kids from Forestville and Carimona. Students were split into seven grades, G-A , which were split among the classrooms on the first and second floors. The graded school’s first teacher was T.L. name TL Brockway, through pictured here is teacher Myrtle Cummings and her class from 1894.

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21899 County Road 118
Preston, MN
55965

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We are still open Saturdays in September and October starting at 10:00 a.m. The last tour of the day goes out at 4:00 p.m. Educational & Group Tours by reservation only April - October Historic Forestville is a museum operated by the Minnesota Historical Society. Guides will lead you through the site telling you the history of the Forestville area. One of the highlights of this tour is the Historic General Store.

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Comments

We love to ride thru the town!!! Especially when we can take an ice cream break!!!😉🤣
We camped at Forestville Mystery Cave State Park and visited Historic Forestville and Mystery Cave. It was a great weekend adventure!
Thank you all for the incredible experience and your hospitality. We had a marvelous reunion. Best, Chris Dempsey - San Francisco
3 women conversing with the men in the barn... Era 1899. Very entertaining.
1899 Saturday night. Men hanging out in the barn.
Visit this hidden treasure of Minnesota, home to states longest cave ..... bring a jacket and enjoy mother nature at its best #forestville #minnesota #onlyinmn #mysterycave Minnesota DNR Outdoor Adventure Center Capture Minnesota Only In Minnesota Explore Minnesota Tourism Minnesota Historical Society Minnesota Department of Natural Resources #maplegrove #mn