Lac qui Parle County Park

Saturday’s park selection led us near Dawson to Lac qui Parle County Park. The temps were in the 30s and the sun was out. A nice day for a walk in the park.

We came to a turnoff for the park and the mud started flying as we went down the road. We passed by a shelter that was horse friendly. Ross parked the car, got out his walking stick, and off we went.

The trail led us by the river. One thing that stuck out to me was the bluff. We had quite the panoramic view of it– the craggy bluff, the frozen, snow-covered river and a lone rope swing hanging from a tree branch. Guess that gets a bit of use in the summer.

We were the only ones in the park that afternoon as we trekked along the trail. And because the weather was still cold, and it’s still winter, we were able to cross the ice on the river a few times. I’d have Ross go first as he tapped his walking stick on the ice. I figured if anything cracked or such, I’d turn around and find a different route. But it was fine.

The park does have some history to it. About an hour or so into our journey, we came across a pioneer cemetery. There were only a few visible gravestones. According to the sign at the cemetery, in 1869, a group of settlers from Fayette County, Iowa, came north to explore and settle in new land opening up in the Minnesota Valley. The group was led by Peter F. Jacobson and became know as the Jacobson colony. Eventually, a town, Williamsburg, was started. Then the town of Lac qui Parle was established, which eventually led to the demise of Williamsburg. The pioneer cemetery is basically the last remnant of the Williamsburg townsite. The Lac qui Parle Evangelical Lutheran congregation was started in 1870. Then came a need for a cemetery, which was established a year later. According to the sign, the area, which has been commonly known as Nash’s Grove, is now known as the Lac qui Parle County Park. The congregation built a church a mile west of the cemetery and continued to use the cemetery until 1884. The youngest buried in the cemetery was only a couple of weeks old; the oldest being 65. The gravestones that exist are weathered, but mostly visible.

Ross wanted to continue our hike on the path that led out of the back of the cemetery. The first sign I see is “Danger, cliff.” Cliff? I slowly look to my right and notice the cliff. Yikes. So I stuck more to the left and made my way over the “danger, cliff” portion of the trail.

I had to admit that my feet were getting sore, and I was a little tired as we kept walking along. But there was a little surprise as we saw several deer bounding across the field. We finally reached the car, went back down the muddy road and then found the other entrance to the park — one that had a picnic shelter, playground equipment and the like. Anyway, I think we found a park we want to explore more. Maybe during the summer.