Petroglyphs of Southern Minnesota (Original Photography)


Situated in the middle of a patch of prairie, surrounded by rural farmland, is a place I have meant to visit for some time. For at least 7,000 years, the Jeffers Petroglyphs site has been visited by Native Americans who left their mark on the hard stone surface. Depictions of animals, hunting equipment, and human figures are just a few of the more than five thousand exposed petroglyphs.

Very Photogenic]()

The Minnesota Historical Society has a special event during the last two weekends of the season. Instead of closing after the final tour, they keep the area open until about 7:00. This allows visitors to be out in the area as the last rays of sunlight hit the glyphs. Difficult to see during most of the day, these carvings become much more obvious and the natural red color of the rock is also exaggerated nicely. As a photographer, I decided to visit during this event.

Totally Stoned]()

The last tour started at 3:30 and the sun was still too steep to see anything at that point. The tour guide had a spray bottle, though, and would occasionally spray a glyph so that it was easier to see. After the tour was over, everyone milled around for awhile and waited for the sun to get a little lower. It was a lot of fun chatting with other visitors.

Where's Waldo?]()

If you view the higher-resolution image, you can get a more detailed view and even zoom in a bit on your screen. How many petroglyphs do you see? The human-carved works appear as pockmarked lines or shapes. The majority of the straight, narrow lines were created by glaciers. A depiction of a bison is in the center of the image.

Lonely Bison]()

This is a close-up of one of the bison glyphs. There were several more bison around this one, including a calf. Bison were very important to native people in this area, so it isn't surprising to find many of them depicted.

Got to hand it to them!]()

Here's an interesting one. This hand print isn't actually a "print." The person who put this one into the stone had to use some sort of chisel, because it's actually carved.

Bird? Plane? Hedgehog?]()

Some of the artistry appears to be a little abstract. I'm not certain as to what the last one is depicting, but perhaps it's a bird.

Visitors are encouraged to walk on the surface and get a better view of the glyphs, but there is a condition. This must be done barefoot. Besides protecting the carvings from damage, this is a sign of respect.

Lonely Tree on the Rocks]()

When the last rays of sunlight turned the prairie red, it was time to head back to Mankato. I took a few last photos on my way out, though.

Red Prairie]()

For more information about the area, visit their website.

Thank you for taking a look! If you enjoy my work, please click the upvote button. Comments are also greatly appreciated.


Comments 11

That is so cool. I love trying to imagine the people who lived here before me.

23.09.2019 04:18

It's amazing that people have been coming to that random spot in the middle of the prairie to sculpt for seven thousand years.

23.09.2019 20:10

It is pretty incredible. Maybe it was a gathering/trading site?

23.09.2019 21:04

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23.09.2019 22:53

Cool! So you were barefoot? At least it looks like you have great weather there still. Here, it's rain, rain, and more rain BUT this weekend is supposed to be clear weather with a Northern Light display. Have you ever photographed something like that? I assume it would be about the same as your milky way photos...but the northern lights move lots hmmm

26.09.2019 01:44

I'd like to get a chance to photograph the Northern Lights, but have never gotten to see them, ,really. They're visible from the Boundary Waters in northern MN, but I didn't have any luck the one time I was up there. From what I can tell, though, they wouldn't be too hard to get. Your camera does a lot better than mine in low light, too, which would help.

Settings would take a bit of trial and error and depends on what lens you're using. I'm guessing you have an f/4 maximum aperture lens, though, so you could start at ISO 1600, f/4, and start with 10-15 second exposures.

26.09.2019 22:15

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26.09.2019 01:52

What a cool place to visit and I can understand why they would want visitors barefoot so as not to do any damage thanks for sharing with us

27.09.2019 22:57

Very interesting sir fotosdenada! I didn't know that one was up there, did everyone walk around on them barefoot? I know you did because you took pictures. That one with the tree in the center is classic.

29.09.2019 01:31

Thanks! There were quite a few people walking around on them barefoot. It was a nice night and a special event, so it made it a little more difficult to photograph them without peoples' shadows, but that's alright. I tend to wind up in the least crowded parts of wherever I visit.

29.09.2019 01:46

Well I would think that most people wanted to take photos so they would help each other out by not getting in the way of someone taking pictures.

29.09.2019 03:45