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Frontenac, MN.

Frontenac is comprised of two unincorporated communities located about a mile apart. Old Frontenac was founded in 1839 along the shores of Lake Pepin near its widest spot. The area was settled and developed by two brothers, Israel and Lewis Garrard, who were enamored with the natural beauty of the bluffs and prairies that surround the lake. The community is now a designated Historic District due to the several large homes on tree-lined streets that were built around the civil war era.

Other significant buildings include the Lakeside Hotel, which was very popular in the 1880s when Frontenac became known as the "Newport of the Northwest" - a fashionable vacation spot for visitors traveling upriver during the summer. The largest building is the Villa Maria, which was originally a girls' school, but now is used as a conference/retreat center.

What won't be found in Old Frontenac are any commercial businesses.

Back at Frontenac State Park, cross-country skiers can enjoy 4.7 miles of groomed trails. Within park boundaries, snowmobilers can ride 5.5 miles of groomed trails through ravines, or on the bluff top with great views, and then connect with more than 400 miles of trail outside the park. Still others can quietly snowshoe in the park or bring sleds, toboggans and tubes and try out the park's sliding hill.
Frontenac has something to see every season of the year.

Frontenac tidbits

  • Frontenac is really two small communities, Old Frontenac and New Frontenac. Neither is incorporated. Old Frontenac has no retail businesses.
  • Old Frontenac was considered the "Newport of the Northwest" during the late 1880s.
  • Old Frontenac was platted and developed by a Dutch immigrant, Evert Westervelt, and two brothers, Israel and Lewis Garrard, who were sons of the family that founded Cincinnati. Their stepfather, John McLean, was a U.S. Supreme Court justice in the mid-1880s who wrote the dissenting opinion in the Dred Scott case.
  • James "Bully" Wells, from New York, started a trading post at Old Frontenac in 1839. Through his wife, Jane, a Dakota woman, Bully owned a large expanse of land that was to become Frontenac. He later sold most of this to Evert Westervelt and the Garrards.
    Jeptha Garrard, brother to Israel and Lewis, experimented with "flying machines," jumping off the bluff top of Point-No-Point. Israel, Kenner and Jeptha Garrard and their stepbrother Nathaniel McLean all became generals in the Civil War.
  • Some guests of note at the Lakeside Hotel included President Grant, Henry Ward Beecher (brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of "Uncle Tom's Cabin"), the Randolph Hearst family, and 19th century stage star Marie Dressler.
  • The entire community of Old Frontenac is on the National Register of Historic Places, the first such community in Minnesota.
Old Frontenac's sister community, Frontenac Station or New Frontenac is located on the railroad and highways 61/63. The Florence Town Hall, "oldest, continually used town hall in the state" has achieved the status of being listed on the National Register of Historic Places and serves as the local township government center. Here visitors can catch a meal, a few groceries or supplies, or a variety of items including outdoor motorized sports equipment.
Frontenac offers the best views of Lake Pepin and the Mississippi River Valley. From an overlook 430 feet above the lake in Frontenac State Park, visitors can see nearly the entire 26 mile long lake, the river valley and the Wisconsin and Minnesota bluffs on either side. The park offers several other spectacular vistas of the lake and inland valleys from various points along the 13 miles of hiking trails.
In addition, hikers will see several varieties of spring woodland wild flowers, hundreds of species of migrating birds, including bald eagles, tundra swans, turkey vultures, hawks, ducks, geese and warblers.
Also along the trails are a couple of limestone quarries where tons of stone were quarried for buildings in Frontenac and Lake City and elsewhere. Some of this stone was sent to New York to be used in the nave of the Cathedral of St. John.
For a water level view of the bluffs, stop at Hansen's Harbor, a full service marina with a boat ramp and ship's store.
Another place to catch great vistas of the valleys is at Mt. Frontenac Golf Course. The course offers 18 holes of golf on the bluff top with lots of views.
MVP | PO Box 1 | Wabasha, MN 55981