A History of Pipestone National Monument Minnesota
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Pipestone National Monument is located on the western slope of the Coteau des Prairie (the divide between the Mississippi and Missouri drainage on the north-central plains), astride the valley of Pipestone Creek, a tributary of the Big Sioux River.

The general topography of the surrounding lands is gently rolling, interrupted here and there by outcrops of Sioux quartzite bedrock. It is between layers of one of these outcrops that Indians discovered the exposure of soft, red catlinite.

diagram of geologic cross-section
Pencil sketch showing geologic cross section of quarry; pipestone is stratum B. (Courtesy, National Archives.)

The climate of this region is Humid Continental (short summer phase), most distinctly characterized by its short, hot summer and long, cold winter. Precipitation ranges from 14 to 35 inches a year, with an average of 24.5 inches, 78 percent of which usually occurs in the months of April through September.

Before the advent of white settlers, the region was covered with tall prairie grasses and associated plants. Several areas within the Monument still have such vegetation. Early visitors took note of the long distance to usable wood supplies.


A History of Pipestone National Monument Minnesota
©1965, Pipestone Indian Shrine Association
pipestone/sec1.htm — 04-Feb-2005

Copyright © 1965 by the Pipestone Indian Shrine Association and may not be reproduced in any manner without the written consent of the Pipestone Indian Shrine Association.