Otter Tail County (pop. 57,303), west of Wadena County, has more than 1,000 lakes and is a popular area for summer tourism.
The Otter Tail River begins up north in Clearwater County, flows south through 10 lakes in Otter Tail County, then flows west to join the Bois de Sioux River at Wahpeton, North Dakota.. There, they form the Red River, which flows north into Canada.
Fergus Falls (pop. 13,138), the county seat, is on Interstate 94, which runs diagonally between Minneapolis and Fargo.
A tornado hit Fergus Falls in 1919, killing 57 people and destroying much of the town. It was the second deadliest tornado in Minnesota history.
City Hall in Fergus Falls, built in 1928, was patterned after Independence Hall.
The Fergus Falls State Hospital was built between 1888 and 1912 – one of many massive “Kirkbride buildings” in the U.S., designed to house the mentally ill. The complex is now unoccupied, and its future is uncertain.
The Center for the Arts in the Fergus Theatre (1921) hosts a variety of concerts and other events.
Hillcrest Lutheran Academy, a private boarding high school, is located on the former campus of the now-defunct Park Region Luther College.
Nearby, the town of Perham (pop. 2,985) hosts an annual event called The Gathering, which it bills as “The World’s Largest Fish Decoy Show.”
Pelican Rapids (pop. 2,464) has a 15-foot, concrete statue of a pelican, known locally as “Pelican Pete.”
The town of Vergas (pop. 331) has a 20-foot loon statue on the shores of Long Lake. There is some confusion about whether Vergas got its name from a brand of railroad sleeping car, or whether the sleeping car got its name from the town.
The highest point in Otter Tail County is Inspiration Peak (1,750 feet) in the so-called Leaf Mountains, which run southeast from Fergus Falls for about 50 miles.
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