Minnesota: Otter Tail County

Otter Tail County (pop. 57,303), west of Wadena County, has more than 1,000 lakes and is a popular area for summer tourism.

Otter Tail Lake is the 10th largest in Minnesota.

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.

192 miles long

Fergus Falls (pop. 13,138), the county seat, is on Interstate 94, which runs diagonally between Minneapolis and Fargo.

Giant otter, Adams Park, Fergus Falls

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.

Many of the victims were inside the Grand Hotel.

City Hall in Fergus Falls, built in 1928, was patterned after Independence Hall.

Is it Philadelphia, or is it Fergus Falls?

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.

For Sale: Century-Old Mental Hospital

The Center for the Arts in the Fergus Theatre (1921) hosts a variety of concerts and other events.

There’s also a Fergus Grand Theatre in Fergus, Ontario.

Hillcrest Lutheran Academy, a private boarding high school, is located on the former campus of the now-defunct Park Region Luther College.

Built in 1901 in the Romanesque style

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.”

Mark your calendars for April 13-14, 2013.

Pelican Rapids (pop. 2,464) has a 15-foot, concrete statue of a pelican, known locally as “Pelican Pete.”

“The World’s Largest Pelican” (1957)

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 World’s Largest Loon” (1960s)

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.

It rises about 400 feet above the surrounding plains.

NEXT: WILKIN COUNTY

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5 comments on “Minnesota: Otter Tail County

  1. John Dodds says:

    If i had infinite money, I would buy that mental hospital — it looks very cool.

  2. Mary Schlick says:

    I am visualizing the retreat of the great glacier which left the huge Lake Agassiz which dried up eventually to form that rolling countryside and the Leaf Mountains. Is that geologicaly correct?

  3. Lois says:

    I like all the big monuments to wildlife in Minnesota.

    The river otter has become very abundant in the Midwest after recovery efforts from wildlife agencies, which is great.

    The highest place: beautiful.

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