Some Braved the Cold to Learn Local History

Posted at: 12/29/2013 10:55 PM
By: Jenna Lohse

Locals braved the cold weather today to go on a cave tour at Quarry Hill
Locals braved the cold weather today to go on a cave tour at Quarry Hill

(ABC 6 News) -- The drop in temperature didn't stop a group in Rochester from enjoying time outside at Quarry Hill Park. We tagged along as they went 25 feet underground and toured the historic sandstone cave.

Taking a tour of the sandstone caves at Quarry Hill requires a 10 minute trek through the woods. Normally the walk is no big deal, but Sunday it meant bundling up from head to toe.

"We're never really surprised how hardy Minnesotans are,” said Naturalist and Tour Guide, Travis Meyer.

"It's good to get out no matter what the temperature is because you need to I think love Minnesota if you live here,” said Schalleen Nelson, who toured the cave with her kids.

One way to do that is learning about the history of Rochester. The sandstone caves on the Quarry Hill property were carved in 1882. In order for the Rochester State Hospital to store food, before refrigerators were invented.

"The people at the hospital really liked it because it meant that the food coming out in the spring was fresh and crisp,” said Meyer.

The sandstone cave was constructed in two phases. With 32 small rooms that could hold up to 350 bushels of fruits and vegetables.

"It's way better than just reading about it in a history book,” Nelson said after the tour. "That's proof that there were horse drawn buggies way back when, so it's fun for kids to learn about,” she said.

Touring the cave in the dead of winter has it's perks. Catching hibernating bats on camera is said to be the best part - for some. But for most, an afternoon spent learning about our city's history is what makes it great family outing. Even if it means braving the cold weather to do it.

Quarry Hill has Sunday cave tours twice a month. Of course they are all year round, so taking on cold temperatures isn't a requirement.