Prairie Yard & Garden: Quarry Park

(gentle music) – [Narrator] Prairie Art
and Garden is a production of the University of Minnesota Morris in cooperation with
Pioneer Public Television. Funding for Prairie Yard
and Garden is provided in part by Heartland Motor Company, providing service for over 30 years in the heart of truck country. Heartland Motor Company, we have your best interest at heart. Farmer’s Mutual Telephone Company and Federated Telephone Cooperative, proud to be powering Acira. Mark and Margaret Yeagle-Juline in honor of Shalom Hill Farm, a non-profit rural
education retreat center in a beautiful prairie
setting near Windham in southwestern Minnesota. Shalom Hill Farm, Diamond Willow Advanced
Care Assisted Living, providing custom homes with
smaller settings designed especially for high-care needs. And the Minnesota Arts
and Cultural Heritage Fund from the vote of the people of Minnesota on November 4, 2008. – When we think of a park in Minnesota, we think of trees, grass,
flowers, and water. Today, we’re going to visit a
park that has all those things plus many more. This park is not well
known to many people, but it has played a very important part in the history, settlement,
and legacy of our state. I’m Mary Holm, host of
Prairie Yard and Garden and let’s go visit and learn about a special place called Quarry Park. (gentle music) Some time back, I was visiting
with a friend named Gary. He loves to go bicycle riding
and one of his favorite places to ride is Quarry Park near
Waite Park in St. Cloud. Tom and I have lots of relatives who live in the Twin Cities area and
we have driven near this park for 30 years and never knew it existed. In doing some research,
it turns out this park is very important to Minnesota’s history. To learn more, I contacted Caitlin Carlson of the Stearns History Museum. Welcome, Caitlin. – Thank you, Mary. – How did Quarry Park get its name? – Quarry Park got its name
just from all the quarries that are here. Citizens of Stearns County
came here for recreation many years before it was Quarry Park and I think they called
it Hundred Acres’ Quarry for a long time before it actually became officially Quarry Park. – [Mary] So what kind of stone was mined here in the quarries? – [Caitlin] Basically granite
was the big driving force in Stearns County and
the other two counties: Benton and Sherburn County. So that’s why they call
us the granite city because it was all about granite. – [Mary] Okay, well when
was the first mining done or started here in this area? – So the Midwest kind of
opened up for settlement in about 1850. The first big quarry that we know of that was here was called
the Breen and Young Quarry. That was kind of in the
eastern part of St. Cloud, but by the reformatory. That opened in 1868, so
that’s really the first. They had to wait until the
railroad came to St. Cloud and so that’s really when it started here. – [Mary] What were some of the first uses for the granite that was mined? – [Caitlin] So granite at the beginning, before technology kind of allowed for all these other uses of granite, was used for a lot of foundational things, foundations for homes,
bridges, paving stones, things like that. So nothing too decorative
or fancy at first, but it’s a very sturdy, one of
the heaviest stones there is and so they used it for
purposes of structure and foundation so. However, Stearns County granite eventually formed a reputation
for being particularly hard, harder than some other
granites that were in the area or in the country and when polished, the colors were pretty
unique in Stearns County. Of course they didn’t
discover that until later on when polishing became,
you know, a big thing, but it eventually became
a very distinct, unique, and popular type of granite, so. – [Mary] So how did that
affect the settlements around this area? – It just drew a lot of immigrants to the area particularly from
Scotland, Sweden, Finland to a lesser extent, but
it brought people here that wouldn’t have otherwise come here. And they were able to build
these granite companies. But it also appealed
to just stone workers, mobile stone workers who were just looking for work in America. So it really was a draw for
immigrants in particular and you know, with big companies like that comes support businesses like blacksmiths and
people willing to sell and market this granite. And so it just kind of grew
an industry in St. Cloud where it was just kind of a pretty rural and slow-to-develop
community at that point. But it grew really fast especially around the turn of the century,
turn of the 20th century. – So did some of the
communities end up being quite ethnic people as
the Scots would settle in one place and the
Norwegians in another? – For a time I believe so. There was a little area in east St. Cloud that they called Swede Hollow. I know there’s a Swede
Hollow in the cities too, but there actually was
a small Swede Hollow in St. Cloud where a lot of
Swedish mobile stone workers. There was a Swedish-owned
granite company there for a while, but it also
just kind of attracted those mobile people that were
just looking for work, so. – Well, I had read at
one time that I think, wasn’t this even one of the
largest granite-producing areas in the whole United States? – I believe so, yeah. It was kind of the main
industry from the turn of the century until
after World War II even, after going through a period of, you know, the Depression where it
was hard to scrape by, there was actually kind of a resurgence. There were like 30 quarries at the time, but you know, it’s kind
of faded since then, but we still have
Coldspring Granite is one of the biggest granite
companies in the world. Cold Spring Granite was actually
founded by Henry Alexander who was from Scotland. He formed a quarry. It was originally
Rockville, but then he moved to Cold Spring because Rockville
was kind of monopolized by a different company at that time. And so they found a lot
of success in Cold Spring and eventually they condensed
Cold Spring to one word, Coldspring, and that’s
how they’re known today. And they have quarries in
Canada and other countries and other parts of our
country as well, so. – [Mary] How did they get the
granite out of the ground? – [Caitlin] It was hard work. So dynamite was involved. Explosive were involved
to free that granite from the bedrock. You had, that was kind of the first step. Then they would have to
use these massive derricks in order to hoist these loads of granite over to the finishing
sheds where they would then hand chisel holes, a line
of holes into the granites, the loads of granite and then they would use a technique called
the plug and feather technique where they inserted two
feathers, two stone feathers, and then a plug in the middle
and then they just whacked at it with sledge hammers
until they split it. And then you go on to the polishing stage, which is a whole other thing. So it was back-breaking, extensive work until technology came along
and kind of, you know, development of power tools
and air electric tools that you could polish it
to look very beautiful. It took until the advent of those tools to really see how the
colors could stand out and that’s kind of when graves and monuments became really popular and obviously made more
available to more people because it was cheaper once
you didn’t have to rely on very slow and tedious hand work. But yeah, the technology really helped in opening up other uses for granite. – Well thank you. This has been so interesting. I’m gonna go see if I can find Ben to tell us a little bit more about – Oh yeah. – What Quarry Park is all about now. – Yup, he can do that. (gentle piano music) – Caitlin said that I should talk to you when I find out a little bit more about the natural
resources here at the park. So can you tell us a
little bit about yourself? – Yeah, well I’m Ben Anderson. I’m the Stearns County Parks Director. I’ve worked for the Parks
Department about five years. I manage 16 parks and
three recreational trails, Quarry Park being, by far,
our gem of our park system. – [Mary] When did Quarry Park become part of the Stearns County Park system? I assume it was after the quarries closed? – [Ben] Yes, so the quarrying started in the St. Cloud area around the, at least within the park
area, around the 1900’s and were active through the mid-1950’s. From the mid-1950’s up until 1992, the locals used the park for swimming and recreation unofficially,
trespassing per se. In 1992 is when the county
purchased the first 220 acres of the park. From 1992 to 1998, they worked
on the development aspect of the park, creating a master plan, taking public input, what
would the people like to see out here, swimming, trails,
things of that nature, and in 1998 is when the
park officially opened to the public. Quarry Park in total is 683 acres in size, but really the northern 220 acres is where all the recreational fun happens. Quarry Park boasts around
20 different quarries and they vary in what
you can use them for. – [Mary] Mm-kay. So after the rock has gotten taken out, do they all fill with water? – [Ben] Most, at last
within Quarry Park have, however there are a few that range from about two foot depth of
water to our deepest, which is about 116 feet deep. – [Mary] Does that water stay really cold when it gets that deep? – [Ben] So as you go down
in the water column, yes, however the swimming zone
in which we call it here, which is above the five to
six feet under the surface of the water stays very
similar to the area lakes. – [Mary] So do you allow
swimming in all of the quarries? – [Ben] No we don’t. There’s two quarries within Quarry Park, quarry number 11 and quarry two, which we allow people to swim in. – What are some of the other activities that people do when
they come here to visit? – We have a mountain bike trail. You can ride your bike
on any of our trails throughout the park. You can hike, walk, trail run, snowshoe, cross country ski in the winter. We actually have four miles of
lit cross country ski trails. – [Mary] Are there any fish
is some of the quarries too? – [Ben] Yes, seven of the
quarries are stocked with trout. We have a partnership with Minnesota DNR and they stock rainbow trout every spring. – Do people need to have permits in order to be able to
come in and go fishing and go swimming and do some
of the other things too? – The only permit that we
have to get into the park would be a parking permit. Anybody can walk or ride
their bike or take the bus to the entrance and it’s free, but otherwise if you want to drive and park your vehicle,
it’s $5 a day or $20 for an annual permit. The other permits that
we have in the park are for rock climbing and scuba diving. There are three quarries within the park that you can scuba dive in. You have to be a certified diver and you have to have our permit. You can also rock climb in the park in one specific location. You have to provide all your own equipment for those activities and
there is a liability waiver that we ask. Permits are free for rock
climbing and scuba diving. – Okay, so if people want to do this, do they contact you ahead of time or when they come, can
they get those permits too? – Both, so during the summer months, we have a gate keeper
that staffs the house, little house right when
you come into the park. They can obtain permits from them or they can come into the park office. We also have an online
version if people are coming from the Metro and are
gonna be here before, say, our park opens or are coming on a weekend or something like that. – [Mary] So you actually
have quite a few people that come from the Metro area? – Yeah, we see about 1/3 of
our users here at Quarry Park that come from the Metro area. – Ben, how do people find
out about Quarry Park? – So really it’s been kind
of driven by social media. Our biggest user group is
really kind of the age 16 to 25. So the social media aspect
and over the last four or five years has really
picked up the parks popularity. – [Mary] I see that there’s some equipment that’s still out here. Who owns that equipment? – [Ben] The Stearns
County owns the equipment. Our kind of gem of our equipment that we have here is the Liberty Derrick. The Liberty Derrick is
an old-style crane made out of two wooden timbers,
a mast and a boom, that are each 85 feet in length and in it’s prime was
capable of lifting upwards of 20,000 pounds. – [Mary] Do you still use that at all? – [Ben] We do. We try to operate it at
least two times a year. – [Mary] Wow, well this
is such a beautiful park just even from the little that I’ve seen. Would you be willing to show
us some of the special places here in the park? – [Ben] For sure. (gentle music) – I have a question: what
kind of ornamental grass can I grow in the shade? – Well most ornamental and
native grasses are really good to grow in full sun, but there are a few for the shade conditions and these tend to be shorter grasses. They are grasses that will
tolerate a lot more in moisture. So the first one I’m gonna
recommend is hakonechloa grass. Now this is a grass that’s
native to the forest in Japan. So it’s native to the woods. It likes moist conditions and
shade is really good for it. It won’t grow very well in full sun in our Minnesota climate. There are three different
kinds of hakonechloa grass: the totally green form,
a yellow stripe form, and then a form called all gold. All three of these are
great grasses for the shade. Another kind of grasses are sedges and sedges look just like grasses, but there are many sedges
that will grow really well in the shade. So the blue sedge is a low-growing sedge less than a foot tall, great
ground cover in the shade. It will tolerate a little bit more sun than hakonechloa grass does,
but it will tolerate heavy, clay soil, light sandy soil. Both of these grasses, hakonechloa and blue sedge, have rhizomes, but the hakonechloa grass
is very slow to spread. Blue sedge grows much more vigorously so you might be careful
where you put blue sedge, but both blue sedge and
hakonechloa grass are great grasses for the shade. – [Narrator] Ask the Arboretum
Experts has been brought to you by the Minnesota
Landscape Arboretum in Chanhassen, dedicated
to enriching lives through the appreciation
and knowledge of plants. (gentle music) – Mary, here we are at quarry 11. It’s our family-friendly swimming quarry. It was developed in 2015
with a State Legacy Grant in an effort to bring a more
family-friendly atmosphere to the park. That’s why we have the sandy beach, we have a little bit
smaller rock formations, above a 10 foot jump off into the water. We have a swimming platform and then we also have the swimming rope which helps delineate
where the deep water is versus the shallower water. We also recommend that you’re
either a really strong swimmer or you have some sort of life
jacket or flotation device and that you pay good attention when you’re out here swimming. – [Mary] So once you get past the signs, the water is much much deeper? – [Ben] Right, so the
buoys out here indicate a significant drop off where it goes to be from about three to
four feet straight down to 20 feet deep. This quarry in total is 50 feet deep, which is about out where the
big, the jumping area is. – My goodness, so when this was built, did you guys have to install
the sandy beach area here too? – Yes, so we removed a few trees to create this open area
along the beach area here, just to create that easier
access into the water in comparison to our swimming quarry which is pretty much you have to jump in if you want to get into the water. – [Mary] So you have
two swimming areas here? – [Ben] Yes, quarry
number two is the original and that’s 116 feet deep
at its deepest point and boasts a little bit
over a 20 foot jumping area. – [Mary] My goodness, now
you had said something about that the water isn’t very cold when, but I would’ve thought
it would be really cold with that deep. – [Ben] Right, we find within our, at least within our water surveys, that the water temperature
stays very similar to the area lakes within a degree or two at least within the five
to six feet below surface. Once you get further down,
yes, it does get very, it gets a lot colder. – [Mary] And then do you
have a lifeguard on duty here during the busy times
or on weekends at all? – [Ben] No, we do not. It’s all swim at your own risk. – [Mary] Well, it looks
like it’s a beautiful area. I’d just like to get in there and build a little sandcastle here because it’s really nice. I bet you have a lot of
people that come to visit. – Yes, it’s very popular. Our busiest time of the year
at this park is Memorial Day through Labor Day. We see about 150,000 visitors. A third of them come out of
the Twin Cities Metro area. It’s just a great place to come and enjoy and cool off from the summer heat. (gentle music) Here we’re at a patch
of prickly pear cactus, the brittle prickly pear. A lot of people don’t know
that here in Minnesota, we actually have our own cactus. It’s a rock outcrop specialist, which is what some of the,
drew some of the early settlers to this area is that they
could see the granite outcrops here throughout the park. – [Mary] So does this bloom here? – [Ben] Yes, it blooms around late June, a really nice showy yellow flower. Mary, there’s also lichens that forms on the rock outcrops
and they’re an organism that really vary in
color throughout the park and essentially why they’re important is that scientists can actually
take the lichen themselves and use them to pull out data
on pollutants in the air. So they actually can absorb like mercury and things that are in
the air into the plant and scientists can use
that to then delineate how much pollutant
there may be in the air. They’re also really good at converting carbon dioxide into oxygen. – [Mary] Do you have research projects that are ongoing or is
anything here at the park used for scientific study? – Yes, actually right now we’re working with the University of
California Berkeley. They’re out here doing a specific study on the diabase rocks within the park. And essential they’re
dykes or veins of dark rock that run in the granite. They’re looking at them
to hopefully connect what the location of the
North American continent anywhere from 1.1 to
1.7 billion years ago. – [Mary] Wow, that’s really interesting. Can we see another area of the park? – Yes we can. (gentle music) Mary, here we’re at one of our many natural resource
features here at Quarry Park in the prairie. And Stearns County fall
sin a unique situation in terms of the whole US as a country in that we fall in the transition zone from the deciduous forests of the east to the tall grass prairies of the west. So prior to European
settlement, most of this area here in central Minnesota was more likely an oak savannah-like
habitat, which incorporates some lightly-treed canopy
areas with more so oaks, which are more
fire-dependent type species. And then you also get your more
open areas with the prairie like we see here. – How do you maintain this? – So all of our prairie areas we maintain on a rotational prescribed fire, which means we come in and we burn them. We intentional set fire to them because they are a
fire-dependent ecosystem. The native grasses and
forbs, which are flowers, out here in the prairie
have really deep roots, anywhere from three to some
go down to 30 feet deep into the ground. So they persist in this
fire-dependent habitat. – [Mary] When you do a prescribed burn, how do you keep from burning the trees? – So actually, we want
to burn through the trees when we’re doing prescribed fire. Aspen in this area specifically
has been encroaching in on the prairies and if
you don’t have some sort of disturbance to keep that back, it’s just gonna continuously overtake it. So you can look at it like
you’re haying a field, continuously cutting it. Your woody species don’t tend
to encroach in on those fields so we use fire in a similar way. – [Mary] How often do you burn this? – [Ben] About every three to four years. – [Mary] Okay, then you
must have to have a lot of people close by to
watch when you do that. – Yeah, so we have six of
our seven full-time staff that are trained, that have taken the wild
land fire fighting courses and then we also use some
volunteers as well to help us out. – And then do you do the burns
in the spring or in the fall? – Well, it’s a little tricky. Most of ours actually
get done in the spring, which isn’t always the best time for the woody encroachment time. Fall is typically when before the trees put all their nutrition back down into the roots, but a lot of it just comes down to when we have the time and when we can get it done. – Okay, well this is really interesting and I noticed that right out here, there’s an oak tree kind
of in the middle of this. Does that get hurt when you burn? – [Ben] No, so the oak
trees are fire resistant in that their bark is a little bit thicker so they’re not as, they’re more tolerant of the fire moving
through whereas the aspen has a thinner bark and
therefore is less resistant to the fire. – [Mary] So when you burn this, how long does it take
until it looks nice again? – [Ben] One rainfall. – [Mary] Really? – Yeah, it’ll start
greening up almost instantly after we get that first rainfall. Yeah, Mary, this is just one
of many natural areas here with the prairie within the park. Why don’t we take a look at one of the wetlands here that we also have? – That sounds great. (gentle music) – Here, Mary, here’s our
wetlands that we have as part of the Quarry
Park and Nature Preserve. They’re really a unique aspect to the park in that they kind of serve
as a sponge for the area. They capture water slowly
and then they also allow that water to slowly seep
into both the groundwater that we collect our drinking water from, but also into our lakes,
rivers, streams, and such. – What is this thing
that we’re standing on? – So this is our floating boardwalk and it’s a way for us
to allow water to move and persist in this area,
but also get people across it over to our most significant swim quarry. It’s a little over 320 feet in length. – [Mary] Wow, do you have to take this in in the wintertime? – [Ben] We do not. It stays out here 365 days a year. So it’ll actually freeze into place and it allows walkers and such and we actually groom
cross country ski trails right alongside of it. – [Mary] Okay, well I
noticed when I stepped on it that it moved, so. – Yeah, depending on the time
of year, this, it fluctuates, but it naturally does so. We don’t need to do any manual. As the water rises, this whole dock rises and as the water falls, it falls with it. So there are sometimes during the year, if we get a drier year,
where this’ll actually all be sitting just on
the bottom of the wetland. – Really? That’s what I was gonna ask about it, if you have to raise or lower
it when we get a big rainfall. – No. – Then, do you have to do
maintenance on this too? Since it’s standing in water,
does it tend to rot easily? – So this, what we’re standing
on right is 20 years old. So it was put in when the
initial park was opened in 1998. So this year is the first
year we did put budgets and dollars into do a
facelift essentially of it. So it’s held up very for getting 20 years. We have replaced a board here or there, but overall it’s done well. – [Mary] It’s really
fun to walk on actually. I noticed that there are
piles and piles of rock here in the Quarry Park. Why so many piles? – [Ben] So actually when
they were doing the quarrying between the 1900 to the
1950’s within the park here, a lot of times, the client was asking for something specific. So say they wanted a black
speck in a piece of granite not to be larger than a dime, if there was anything larger than a dime, it just got discarded on the piles. And it was upwards of 80% of
what they were actually taking out of the quarries
that was just discarded into these piles. – [Mary] That’s really
interesting and so then the piles just kept building and building. – [Ben] Building and building and we got our Stearns County mountains. (gentle music) – Thank you so much for sharing
this beautiful park with us and I just appreciate getting to see all of the diversity that you have, the different areas, the
natural resources that are here. – [Ben] Thank you for your time. – [Narrator] Funding for Prairie Yard and Garden is provided in part by Heartland Motor
Company, providing service for over 30 years in the
heart of truck country. Heartland Motor Company, we have your best interest at heart. Farmer’s Mutual Telephone Company and Federated Telephone Cooperative, proud to be powering Acira. Mark and Margaret Yeagle-Juline in honor of Shalom Hill Farm, a non-profit rural
education retreat center in a beautiful prairie
setting near Windham in southwestern Minnesota. Shalom Hill Farm, Diamond Willow Advance
Care Assisted Living, providing custom homes with
smaller settings designed especially for high-are needs. And the Minnesota Arts
and Cultural Heritage Fund from the vote of the people of Minnesota on November 4, 2008. (gentle music)

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