June 6 is open house day at Minnesota state parks. No vehicle permit is required to enter state parks that day, though tour fees will be charged at Mystery Cave at Forestville, Soudan Underground Mine and Hill Annex Mine. Regular camping and lodging fees will be in effect that day as well.
At Crow Wing State Park the fur-trade encampment will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Visitors can see special demonstrations of historic crafts and activities that date back to the mid-1800s.
At Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area near Ironton, visitors can experience the feeling miners had as they rode the old shaft cage into the mine's depth. This simulated ride also includes the sound of ore drills reverberating along the tunnel walls. This was mining on Minnesota's "forgotten iron range," the Cuyuna Range. Visitors can see the mine dry house and other historic buildings including the office of Cuyuna Range founder Cuyler Adams. Concessions will be available and guests can visit the gift shop and relax in the picnic area.
Mille Lacs Kathio State Park will host archeology day. Activities begin at 10 a.m. with the grand opening and dedication of the Kathio Landmark Trail. The mile-and-a-half self-guided trail follows the old road through the park's original campground, which was relocated to preserve ancient cemetery areas. The trail continues along the wooded shoreline of Ogechie Lake. The first one-half mile of the trail (through the old campground) is accessible to visitors of all abilities. The trail includes 10 stops with 24 interpretive signs that describe natural views and archaeological sites, including two prehistoric village sites and an early 20th century homestead site.
At noon, the Minnesota Archeological Society will conduct demonstrations, including the ancient art of making arrowheads, prehistoric pottery, flint knapping, watercraft and woven baskets. For more active pursuits, head for the picnic area where visitors can challenge their skills at throwing stone-tipped spears or take a ride in a 10-person voyageur-style cedar canoe.
"Canoeists will see unique views of archeological sites from the water that are part of the National Historic Landmark District," says Jim Cummings, naturalist at the park. "There will be two canoe treks for adults serious about archaeology. Each trek will last one-and-a-half hours. There also will be shorter canoe rides of a half-hour. The shorter rides work well for families with children, but children must weigh more than 50 pounds to participate."
Back at the visitor center, guests can learn about archaeology around the state, as well as what the Minnesota Historical Society (MHS), the DNR Divisions of Forestry, Parks and Recreation, Wildlife, and Trails and Waterways are doing to protect Minnesota's historic landscapes. As an added feature, guests who want to learn more about an artifact they own can bring it along. Archeologists on site will be available tell them about their find.
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