A History of Pipestone National Monument Minnesota
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The French were trading on the upper Mississippi by the 1690's, and maintained a number of temporary trading posts within 125 miles of the pipestone quarry by 1750. It seems likely that some of their men visited the quarries, but no direct record is available. Territorial Governor Sibley referred to such visits in some of his writings.

Philander Prescott
Philander Prescott, fur trader to the Sioux.

Major Taliaferro of the Sioux Agency mentions a visit by unidentified persons to the quarry in 1831 in his Journal. Later that same year, the well-known trader, Philander Prescott, visited the quarry on his way to build a wintering house on the Big Sioux River. Prescott reported that "We arrived at the famous place called the pipestone quarry . . . We got out a considerable quantity but a goodeal of it was shaly and full of seams, so we got only about 20 good pipes after working all day . . . This quarry was discovered by the Indians but how and when we have never learnt . . ." He also mentioned his return by way of the quarries in the spring of 1832.

George Catlin
George Catlin, portrait by William H. Fiske in 1849.

Joseph LaFramboise, a mixed blood trader for the American Fur Company, supposedly quarried pipestone here in 1835 for use in trade.

Most widely publicized and long believed to be "the first white visitor" was George Catlin, who visited the quarries in September 1836. Catlin was the first quarry visitor to "break into print," and his writings and lectures were popular and widely known. Dr. C. T. Jackson of Boston, to whom Catlin had given samples of stone, originated the term "catlinite," still applied to the pipestone from these quarries.

sketch of the quarry
Pencil sketch of the quarry made in 1836 by George Catlin. Courtesy, (National Archives.)

Less than 2 years later, Catlin's friend and host, LaFramboise, guided the first truly scientific expedition to the pipestone quarry. With it the period of Federal contact began.


A History of Pipestone National Monument Minnesota
©1965, Pipestone Indian Shrine Association
pipestone/sec3.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.