By Jim Umhoefer
Goodhue County. 10 miles southeast of Red Wing on Highway 61. Turn east onto County 2 in Frontenac Station and drive 1 mile to park entrance.
Frontenac State Park has a story that's as old as the ice age. The sandstone and limestone formations that are today's bluffs were once sediments that hardened into rock at the bottom of shallow seas. Then, raging glacial rivers carved the broad river valley that we see today. The lake was created by a natural dam formed from material deposited by the Chippewa River as it emptied into the Mississippi.
Frontenac, the scenic river town that the park is named for, was established in the 1850s. Its growth was slowed by the Civil War, but one of its founders, Israel Garrard, returned afterward with southern craftsmen to continue developing the town. By the late 1870s, Frontenac had blossomed into a prosperous community. Because of the town's charm and the natural beauty of the bluffs and river, Frontenac became a fashionable summer resort for wealthy families from New Orleans, St. Louis and St. Paul who arrived by steamboat to vacation on the shores of Lake Pepin. When the railroads came, Frontenac, like other river towns, declined. Read more: