Most county museums feature pioneer log cabins, one-room schoolhouses and local history lessons, but this one goes back much further to detail the lives of the Mississippian Woodland Indians who inhabited the area more than 1,000 years ago. It also devotes special attention to Bishop Whipple, a man known for his mission work and for protecting noncombative Sioux in the wake of the U.S. Dakota War of 1862. (He also founded Faribault’s Shattuck-St. Mary’s boarding school, which groomed seven hockey players for the recent winter Olympics.)
The most elaborate display is a replicated 1880s Main Street, including a railroad office, a residential home, a post office, a toy and gift shop, a bank, an optometrist office and even a jail outfitted with Wanted! posters for the notorious Jesse James Gang that raided the bank in nearby Northfield.
There’s also a tribute to Herbert Sellner, a local furniture store owner who created a “water toboggan” for Minnesota lake resorts and later invented the Tilt-A-Whirl, still a beloved fixture at county fairs across the nation.
The Rice County Museum of History is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Adult admission is $3.