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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near New Market in Scott County, Minnesota — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
 

The Big Woods

 
 
The Big Woods Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Keith L, July 22, 2008
1. The Big Woods Marker
Inscription. When the first explorers came to what became Minnesota, they found a land with three very different personalities. To the north were the great forests of white pine and other conifers that later attracted armies of lumberjacks and made Minnesota a leading producer of lumber. To the south and west was the beginning of the Great Plains, the flat, fertile prairie that was broken into successful farms. And in what is now south-central Minnesota was the dense broadleaf forest that settlers called the "Big Woods."

The Big Woods was at the western edge of the great deciduous forest that swept over the middle United States from the Atlantic coast to the Great Plains. In Minnesota the deciduous belt ran from the northwest to the southeast, thickening in the middle to form the Big Woods. There, elm, basswood, sugar maple, and red oak covered more than 3,000 square miles, rising high in the air to form a vast canopy that nearly obliterated the sun during the leafy summer months.

Fire played a large part in determining the boundaries of the Big Woods. Prairie fires, started by lightning or by Indians for hunting purposes, kept the broadleaf trees from invading the grasslands. At the same time, natural firebreaks – lakes, rivers, and rough terrain – prevented these fires from spreading into the forest itself.

Fertile
The Big Woods Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Keith L, July 22, 2008
2. The Big Woods Marker
soil lay beneath the Big Woods, and, inevitably, much of the land was cleared for farming during the last half of the nineteenth century. Only a few remnants of the great forest remain today. The largest of these lies east of Northfield at Nerstrand Woods State Park.
 
Erected 1996 by the Minnesota Historical Society.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Minnesota Historical Society marker series.
 
Location. 44° 33.048′ N, 93° 18.061′ W. Marker is near New Market, Minnesota, in Scott County. Marker can be reached from Interstate 35 at milepost 75, 1.6 miles south of East 260th Street, on the right when traveling south. Click for map. Marker is at the southbound New Market Rest Area. Marker is in this post office area: Elko New Market MN 55054, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 6 other markers are within 10 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. A Flour Milling Revolution (approx. 7 miles away); Millersburg & the Northfield Bank Robbery (approx. 8.6 miles away); Christdala Swedish Lutheran Church 1877 (approx. 8.7 miles away); Nicolaus Gustafson (approx. 8.7 miles away); Sesquicentennial Legacy Plaza (approx. 9.5 miles away); Civil War Monument (approx. 9.5 miles away).
 
Also see . . .  Nerstrand - Big Woods State Park. "In the 1930s large lumber companies attempted to acquire the land for logging. However, the lots were divided among 169 owners, not all of whom even lived in Minnesota anymore, and buying enough land to log commercially proved to be so complicated that each company gave up." (Submitted on January 17, 2009.) 
 
Categories. Natural Features
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Keith L of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin. This page has been viewed 1,156 times since then and 61 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on , by Keith L of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin. • Kevin W. was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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