The inn and the stables behind it, by the 1970s, were in bad repair. They really weren't appreciated as historic, more as an eyesore. The whole place is gone now, except for the lilac bushes and daylilies.
Still, the idea that people stopped there on the way to and from Winnipeg or on their way to Rice and points east was pretty cool, not to mention the pure romance of a primitive trail nearby. If I listened hard enough, could I maybe hear an echo of the oxcarts out there on the prairie?
* * * * *A few years later, when the kids were small, we lived south of Rice in the neighborhood of Gordon Bridge, which is about 5-6 miles downriver from the old Rice Hotel. Gordon Bridge doesn't cross the Mississippi--it's a bridge over a tributary from Little Rock Lake and it's watershed. I often wondered where the oxcarts crossed the channel. They had to have come very near to where we lived, and then down thru a place called Watab, near the Peace Rock. Ooo! PURE history!
Added May, 2013--I read lately that Little Rock Lake (originally a swamp) was formed when the dam in Sartell was built, around 1903. And that means the oxcarts probably had only a stream to cross. Cool, huh?
|The area today compared to Watab township in 1914|
Here's a description from a venerable book called Minnesota Place Names by Warren Upham. (The blue outline is just a bonus fact for your next Incredibly Trivial Persuits game). The pink outlines talk about Peace Rock, and the green underline made me laugh.
Peace Rock is visible from the River Road, but it's pretty well shrouded in trees.
Another vanished feature of the area was a dance hall/bar called Mississippi Lodge, which was built about where Watab Siding is marked on the 1914 map. It was gradually replaced by a supper club called Pirate's Cove. The Cove burned down in the fall of 1998. There've been a number of different schemes to redevelop the restaurant and area, but with little success so far.
But hey, whatever happens there, someday, it'll be HISTORY, right?