Virginia’s Floating Loon
Visiting Minnesota’s Iron Range left a lasting impression on my family. Filled with amazing historical places to visit, lots of outdoor things to do, and cities with much to explore, you will enjoy traveling to this amazing part of Minnesota. After driving up the north shore, we headed west to Virginia and stayed overnight for a few days while we explored this area of the Iron Range.
Virginia’s Floating Loon
Built out of fiberglass by Bill Martin, this giant loon guards Silver Lake in the middle of the city of Virginia. It is held in place by a cable that is attached to the bottom of the lake. During the winter, it migrates indoors and reappears in the spring. The loon helps to promote the Land of the Loon Festival, which Virginia celebrates every June.
A great spot to view the loon and let the kids burn off some energy is at the playground area just off 2nd Street, which is located on the south side of Silver Lake Park. Bring along your fishing poles and drop a line off the fishing pier into the lake as you gaze upon the giant loon. Also check out Olcott Park, which features another great playground area and access to the Mesabi Trail.
Museums and Historic Places
At the Virginia Area Historical Society Heritage Museum (located at Olcott Park and pictured above), you will learn about the early logging history of the area and the forest fires of 1893 and 1900. Also visit the Olcott Park Greenhouse and Botanical Garden to view hundreds of plants from lemon trees to cacti. Unfortunately for us, we did not get a chance to tour the greenhouse on our visit. Lots of renovations have been done to the greenhouse in the past few years and it has an amazing history, dating back to the 1930’s. I’m putting this on my “Minnesota bucket list” of places to explore.
3/1/17 Note: Mineview in the Sky (below) is currently closed due to highway reconstruction. The community is looking for a new location for it.
I really love scenic overlooks and Mineview in the Sky did not disappoint. After driving up the huge hill, we were able to view the abandoned Rouchleau Mine and the city of Virginia. The Rouchleau Mine is now filled with water and measures 450 feet deep and almost three miles long! You will also see some mining dump trucks that are just enormous! Can you see my kids in the picture below? The King of the Lode represents the type of giant dump truck used to carry iron ore out of the mines. It weighs an incredible 240 tons! Also check out the gift shop and visitor center, which has information displayed explaining the history and process of taconite mining in the area.
Events in Virginia
- Land of the Loon Festival– arts and crafts ethnic festival that celebrates the cultural diversity of the people who settled in Northeastern Minnesota. Foods and entertainment from around the world, kid’s activities, parade, arts and craft vendors.
Thanks for Reading!