A few miles north of the small town of Pelican Rapids, MN on US Highway 59 is a small roadside pullout noted by a small “Historic Marker” sign. At this pullout, there is a plaque on a stone marker that tells of the “Minnesota Woman,” one of the most prominent archaeological finds of the early 1900’s.
Tourism in a funny thing. Some towns are flush with it, cashing in on their proximity to a nearby attraction or milking something topical, historical, or geographical. Some towns are in desperate need of it, especially ones that the highway or interstate system bypassed years ago in the name of speed. But the tiny, unincorporated town of Dorset, MN, population 22, has a claim to fame which sets it apart from elsewhere – They claim to be the Restaurant Capital of the World, and this claim may very well be accurate.
Anyone who has lived in the Twin Cities has likely traveled Highway 100 at one point or another. It is an often-congested highway which runs north and south through the western suburbs like Brooklyn Park, Golden Valley, St Louis Park and Edina, connecting 694 and 494. Its origins go back much further though, back to when it was just a dirt road and later took shape under the Works Progress Administration in the late 1930’s. And the roadside parks of Highway 100, known for their rock gardens and “Beehive” fireplaces, were part of what made this route special.
In the roadside attraction community, a commonly sought-after statue series is the iconic and quirky collection of “Muffler Men.” Muffler Men are large, fiberglass characters which take on generally 5 different looks: The classic Muffler Man, the Indian Brave, the Bearded “Bunyan,” The Cowboy, and the Half-Wit. At one point, Muffler Men numbered in the thousands, but these days there are only around 200 of them still around out there, and surprisingly, roadside attraction-heavy Minnesota only has two. Read on to find out more!