Lynd Prairie Days

According to the “Centennial History of Lyon County,” compiled by Torgney Anderson, the village of Lynd is historically the most important community in all of Lyon County. The reasoning behind that statement is that, since the earliest settlement not only of white settlers but also of the Native Americans, this site was chosen for settlement due to its location along the Redwood River and amidst the protection of the (Camden) hills. Within the vast flat and nearly treeless prairie of what is now known as southwestern Minnesota, early peoples found protection from the wild winds, the blizzards, prairie fires and visiting marauders. This area is where archaeologists have found a host of Indian artifacts dating back thousands of years, which serve as witness to their community camps and to their workshops where they produced tools, grinding stones, vessels to hold food and water, and arrowheads that were used to kill the huge bison they needed for food, clothing and coverings for their teepees.

The early fur traders, the first of the white people to settle in the area, set up their trading posts in the (Lynd) woods also. Joseph LaFramboise came in 1835 and stayed only a couple of years, followed by James W. Lynd in 1855. Lynd built a cabin and trading post in Section 33. He lived there until 1862 when he moved to the Lower Sioux Agency at Redwood Falls and was the first victim of the Sioux Uprising in 1862.

When serious settlement of the area began, there were actually three distinct villages that took root, all bearing the same name — Lynd. In 1865 a post office and small supply store was established at the site named Upper Lynd at the southeast quarter of Section 33. Luman Ticknor built a hotel, and in 1870 Dr. G.W. Whitney opened a store in the log building that had once been occupied by James Lynd.

This is where things get confusing. The state Legislature established Lyon County on Aug 12, 1870, and the county seat was established at Upper Lynd with the first meeting of county commissioners held in Ticknor’s Hotel. By 1871 Upper Lynd was the social, political and business center of the county. But, in the meantime, in June of 1871 Lower Lynd was laid out on Section 27. Levi Kiel (a county commissioner) and A.D. Morgan quickly erected a large hotel at Lower Lynd, and Morgan established a store nearby. Next, the Methodist church building was moved from Upper Lynd to Lower Lynd, and Lower Lynd became the center of the county. By 1872 the county government was moved to the Kier/Morgan Hotel. For the first time county business was conducted on a regular basis at a fixed location in the Kiel and Morgan Hotel.

Then, in 1872, the Winona and St. Peter Railroad built rail tracks as far as Marshall, missing Lynd by just a few miles. Further, county government was lost to Marshall in the 1873 county election, and the county seat moved to Marshall in 1874. Then in 1887, when the Great Northern Railroad was built as far west as the southwest quarter of Section 27, the third, or modern Lynd, was established. Lower Lynd steadily declined, although the post office still operated within the hotel.

In 1888 present-day Lynd was platted and Lower Lynd was abandoned. The village was sold for farmland, and the hotel was converted to a farmhouse. In 1970, a granite pillar from the first courthouse building in Marshall was moved to a site near the Kiel and Morgan Hotel to commemorate citizen interest in the beginnings of county government.

In December of 1980 this historic hotel was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1988 the Lynd Awareness Corp. was established by historic-minded citizens of Lynd who took on the task of renovating this building. Wishing to establish an annual celebration day for this important village, they also created “Lynd Prairie Days.” This group of volunteers worked tirelessly in the process of renovation. They also received free labor assistance from the Lyon County Sentenced to Serve group, and the Lynd volunteers continued to provide their time and energy to this commendable project, planning to open the former hotel building to the public as a museum to house local history, pictures and artifacts.

Source: Centennial History of Lyon County, Torgney Anderson.