Fountain is the western gateway to the Root River State Trail, a 60-mile route that encompasses 42-miles of former Milwaukee Railroad bed, winding along the Root River. The quaint town not only marks the beginning of the number one rated trail in Minnesota, but is hailed as the “Sinkhole Capital of the USA.” This prevailing geographical feature, created by the karst topography, lends to rolling hills and deep-cut valleys of the area, on which this unique trail system resides. Sitting atop the valley, the Fountain sink holes are revealed in numerous caverns and underground waterways, carved throughout the limestone bedrock.
Just as the bedrock has formed the landscape, the history of the area culture was formed by the colorful people who settled here. The Fillmore County History Center and The Emery & Almeda Eickhoff Genealogy Library highlight the heritage, long-held economics, and occasionally the peculiarities of the area. Comprised of four buildings, an 1860s log cabin, and a restored one-room schoolhouse, the complex is simply astounding.
“County museums can be dull, but not this one,” states travel site Roadside America. Over 15,000 antiques, collectibles, and memorabilia are preserved within and each with a story, including an iron padlock over a thousand years old, which legend has it belonged to Leif Ericson the Viking. Another notable exhibit includes the 1932 Model T Sky Scout and a 1947 Air Camper, both built by famed aviator Bernard H. Pietenpol, the “Grandfather of Experimental Aircraft.” The museum’s extensive collection is also comprised as one of Minnesota’s largest collections of antique agricultural equipment, showcasing a restored collection of 36 Oliver tractors, rare handmade wooden tools, automobiles, and oddities.
The Bue Photography Collection, by 1900s Fillmore County Photographer Mathias O. Bue, is another museum treasure. Bue’s work is “a virtual historical picture book that provides a glimpse of a period, places, and people that exist now only in memory and literature.” The comprehensive genealogy library is acclaimed as one of the best organized and extensive local history libraries in the State of Minnesota.
City Park is just a stone’s throw from the museum complex. Here visitors will find picnic shelters, restrooms, ball fields, basketball and volleyball courts, and a playground.
Dining options include homemade pizza and pie in a cozy, café atmosphere and a bar and grill serving American cuisine and providing entertainment. Thirsty? Stop in for refreshments at the brewery just around the corner.
Abundant family farms fill the landscape surrounding Fountain and are a sustaining feature of the community.