Whitewater State Park

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Whitewater State Park
Whitewater State Park.jpg
The Whitewater River in Whitewater State Park
Map showing the location of Whitewater State Park
Map showing the location of Whitewater State Park
Location of Whitewater State Park in Minnesota
Map showing the location of Whitewater State Park
Map showing the location of Whitewater State Park
Whitewater State Park (the US)
LocationWinona, Minnesota, United States
Coordinates44°3′N 92°3′W / 44.050°N 92.050°W / 44.050; -92.050Coordinates: 44°3′N 92°3′W / 44.050°N 92.050°W / 44.050; -92.050
Area1,672 acres (6.77 km2)
Elevation899 ft (274 m)[1]
Governing bodyMinnesota Department of Natural Resources
Whitewater State Park CCC/WPA/Rustic Style Historic Resources
Sign at the south entrance to the park
LocationOff Minnesota State Highway 74, Elba Township, Minnesota
Coordinates44°3′15″N 92°2′45″W / 44.05417°N 92.04583°W / 44.05417; -92.04583
Area563 acres (228 ha)
ArchitectNational Park Service, Civilian Conservation Corps, Works Progress Administration
Architectural styleNational Park Service rustic
MPSMinnesota State Park CCC/WPA/Rustic Style MPS
NRHP reference #89001661
Added to NRHPOctober 25, 1989

Whitewater State Park is a state park of Minnesota, United States, preserving a stretch of the Whitewater River surrounded by rocky bluffs. It is located in Winona County in the southeastern blufflands area of the state. The 2,700-acre (11 km2) park features scenic overlooks and trout fishing in the spring-fed Whitewater River and Trout Run Creek. It has about 300,000 visitors annually, and is located 7 miles (11 km) north of St. Charles on Minnesota State Highway 74, which runs through the park.

Historic structures[edit]

The park's 1930s facilities are listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Whitewater State Park CCC/WPA/Rustic Style Historic Resources. The 536-acre (217 ha) historic district includes 29 contributing properties.[2] The district was listed for having state-level significance in the themes of architecture, entertainment/recreation, landscape architecture, and politics/government.[3] It was nominated for its examples of New Deal federal work relief, diverse National Park Service rustic design, and landscape architecture on a challenging site.[4]


The park's bedrock is lower Paleozoic sedimentary rocks, with limestone and dolomite especially prevalent near the surface. It is highly dissected, and the Whitewater River has cut deep valleys into the bedrock. It is an area of karst topography.


The park is located where the Rochester Plateau Subsection and the Blufflands Subsection meet, both of which are part of the Paleozoic Plateau section of the Eastern Broadleaf Forest Province.[5]

2007 flood[edit]

The August 18 and 19, 2007 Midwest flooding caused extensive damage to the park. The park is in the Driftless Area, where soils are thin and less able to retain water; they lie atop porous rock into and through which surface waters can rapidly drain into the water table.[6] The steep hills and bluffs and deep coulees give steep gradients to the drainage and makes streams highly erosive. As the rains far exceeded the absorption rate of the soils, flash floods rapidly overflowed the river and spread across the valley floors.

About 500 campers were staying in the park at the time.[7] Three bridges were destroyed, and campgrounds, bathhouses, a group dining hall, and water and sewer systems suffered extensive damage. Damage was in excess of four million dollars,[8] and the park was closed to the public on August 20, 2007,[9] and remained closed the balance of the year. On March 1, 2008 it partially reopened, but many of its amenities still had unrepaired damage.[8]

A damaged bridge in 2007


  1. ^ "Whitewater State Park". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. 1980-01-11. Retrieved 2015-06-29.
  2. ^ "Whitewater State Park". Rustic Style Resources in Minnesota State Parks. Minnesota Historical Society. Retrieved 2015-06-29.
  3. ^ "Whitewater State Park CCC/WPA/Rustic Style Historic Resources". Minnesota National Register Properties Database. Minnesota Historical Society. 2009. Retrieved 2015-06-23.
  4. ^ Anderson, Rolf T. (1988-09-16). "National Register of Historic Places Registration Form: Whitewater State Park CCC/WPA/Rustic Style Historic Resources". National Park Service. Retrieved 2015-06-28.
  5. ^ Ecological Classification System, Paleozoic Plateau Section, Rochester Plateau Subsection, and The Blufflands Subsection; all published by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
  6. ^ Ojakangas, Richard W.; Matsch, Charles L. (1982). "Minnesota's Geology". Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. ISBN 0-8166-0953-5.
  7. ^ "Flooding shuts down state's No. 2 campground, ruins hatcheries". Rochester Post-Bulletin. 2007-08-25. Retrieved 2007-08-25.
  8. ^ a b Whitewater State Park partially reopens, Minnesota Public Radio, March 1, 2008.
  9. ^ "Flooding". MN DNR. 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-08-25. Retrieved 2007-08-24.

External links[edit]