This week we are taking a look at beautiful and historic Forestville State Park and Mystery Cave, located on the Highway 16 Route. Near Preston, MN, this is really a combination of two parks…one featuring the restored historic town of Forestville, the other incredible Mystery Cave.
The Minnesota Historical Society operates Historic Forestville as a living museum set in 1899. Costumed interpreters portray Forestville residents and go about daily activities in the general store, house, kitchen, farm, and barn.
Forestville was a rural trade center in the 1800s that declined after the railroad was built elsewhere in 1868. Thomas Meighen, son of one of the town's founders, owned the entire village by 1890, including the general store, and the local residents worked on his property for housing and credit in the store.
Thomas Meighen died in 1936 at the home of his daughter in Pittsburgh. At the time, it appeared his last wish of having his boyhood home become a state park would be left unfulfilled. But in 1963, nearly 30 years after his death, the unfaltering efforts of several local farmers and Forestville natives made Meighen’s dream finally come to fruition.
The townsite, historic buildings, and the entire valley of Forestville became part of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in 1941 and then was established as Forestville State Park in 1963. The Forestville Townsite & Meighen Store is located on the National Register of Historic Places.
Discovered in 1937, Mystery Cave is the longest cave in Minnesota – spanning over 13 miles underground. It is a network of passages that was dissolved by moving water. On the tours, you will travel the subterranean paths this water has taken, seeing many of the features that make up Mystery Cave including stalactites, stalagmites, flowstone, fossils, and beautiful underground pools. Parks naturalists lead your tour through various portions of the cave and explain its history, its features, and how it was formed. The temperature stays at a constant 48 degrees Fahrenheit. A great place to visit on a hot summer day!
The park’s attractions were closed in 2020 due to Covid, but hopefully we will all have the opportunity to visit in 2021 and take in the beauty of Forestville State Park!
Until next week, be safe and well,
Dale and Renee