Found at Blue Mounds State Park in the Deep South West of Minnesota lies a structure that is on the National Registry of Historic Places.

Alas, it is made of stone not brick.  The stone is called Sioux Quartzite or Morton Gneiss and measures number nine on the Mohs hardness scale.

This building came to be because of the New Deal projects from 1937 to 1942, late in the depression.

Few have written about and framed the historical context in which this outhouse  was built.

Reaching back to the 1880’s and 1890’s waves of immigrants came to the midwest an area we often refer to as “Siouxland” (coined by Fredrick Manfred).

A vernacular, Siouxland describes the Big Sioux River watershed an area approximately one hundred miles long and fifty miles wide.

This next wave of occupants came from places like Germany, Ireland, Norway, Sweden and Holland.

The immigrants from Norway and Sweden had stone cutters in their mix and readily identified this curious outcropping of Sioux Quartzite.

They moved from Del Rapids, SD to Pipestone/Jasper Minnesota to utilize their stone cutting skills.

These quartz outcroppings interrupted the prairie land scape in Sioux Falls, Del Rapids, Pipestone, Jeffers, and Luverne.

Del Rapids, Sioux Falls, Jasper and Luverne had stone suitable for commercial architectural use.

Stone not suited for this purpose was crushed into aggregate and used by the railroads and road builders.

All the while these immigrant stone cutters worked out of doors eleven months out of the year with very limited shelter.

They cut stone by hand on a raised platform called a bank with a meager roof over their heads and most often no walls to stop the prairie breezes.

This architectural quarrying  work went on for their entire working careers.

Stone was shipped quite some distance and it can be found in buildings and paver blocks as far away as Mitchell, SD., St. Paul.MN to Omaha,NE.

Toward the end of their careers these immigrant craftsmans / stone masons were experiencing what all Americans were experiencing.

The nation was in the grips of a depression and (to the rescue) part of a federally organized policy created something called the New Deal!

In the final days of their careers, One last testament to their life long skills, craft and dedication to their trade can be found at the Blue Mounds State Park.

After which, Architectural quarrying of Sioux Quartzite seemed to die off at this point in history.

Concrete, brick, block, tile, railroads and perhaps the labor of qualified craftsman and stone masons all played a part in this industry ceasing.

It would be three quarters of an ensuing century before these quarries would again create meaningful architectural stone.

Industrial stone saws imported from Italy made this economically viable  in the recent years.

As you search the cemeteries of this region (between 1940-1999) you will find very few historic grave stones made of Sioux Quartzite.

The immigrant stone masons had lived their lives and much of their trade ceased to exist.

This stone outhouse at the Blue Mounds State Park will stand for centuries and serve as solemn testament to the hard working immigrant spirit that has kept alive the industry of these stone masons..

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