This week at Highway Highlights we venture into the extreme southwest corner of Minnesota to a small town called Pipestone. Nicknamed “Home of the Red Stone Pipe,” Pipestone sits near the borders of Iowa and South Dakota on the Great Plains. But this place is anything but plain. First off, it’s home to this bad boy: The World’s Largest Peace Pipe.This area is noted for its quartzite outcrops and quarries that contrast the surrounding prairies, which has been mined by local Native Americans for centuries. The pipe stone is commonly used for peace pipes, bowls, and other artifacts that can be found next door at the Keepers of the Sacred Tradition of Pipemakers Gift Shop and Gallery, which is located in an old train depot. The town also features many buildings constructed with the quartzite stone, such as the Calumet Hotel or other historic buildings seen here.
The biggest draw to the area of course is the Pipestone National Monument, a still-active quarry site where modern day Indians are still carving peace pipes using the traditional methods. In fact, they are the only ones allowed to actually quarry this rock, and demonstrations are available for your viewing pleasure. The pipes can be purchased at several different locations around town, including the Monument site.
The giant peace pipe was built by local sculptors and erected in 1999. It’s a great roadside attraction obviously and is a difficult one to get checked off the list because it’s in a part of the state that doesn’t get a lot of through-traffic. But this unique town is, like most hidden gems, worth going out of your way for.
While in the area: Blue Mound State Park. Pipestone National Monument. Additional things here.