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Frozen In Time: Grasshopper Chapel [VIDEO]


Ashli Gerdes, WJON News

COLD SPRING — This week in our Frozen In Time series we stopped out to a small chapel with ties to the 1877 grasshopper infestation that plagued the state.

Assumption Chapel in Cold Spring was built in 1877 to help fend off the Rocky Mountain Locusts that destroyed many crops throughout Minnesota. More than half-a-million acres of crops were said to have been devastated by the winged pests.

Local farmers tried many tactics to rid their fields of the grasshoppers including burning the fields and raising animals to eat the locusts. Despite their efforts the insects continued to invade their land.

The infestation grew so bad that newly elected governor John Pillsbury proclaimed a day of state-wide prayer in hopes to end the five year plague.

John Decker is a historian at the Stearns History Museum. He says Governor Pillsbury received a lot of criticism for his proclamation. “He was kind of mocked for it. Religious people were saying we need this, so that’s what happened.”

The next day an April rain began which turned to snow. Decker says the cold weather didn’t stop the grasshoppers but it slowed them down and destroyed many of their eggs.

By 1878 the grasshoppers were gone. Since then, Assumption Chapel has been known as Grasshopper Chapel and is credited with helping put an end to the infestation.

On June 28, 1894 a tornado rolled through the Cold Spring area and demolished Assumption Chapel and damaged other local churches.

A statue of St. Mary was left virtually untouched after the disaster and is on display in the chapel today.

Assumption Chapel was rebuilt in 1951 out of local granite. Today it serves as a reminder of the devastation it survived.

See a video of Grasshopper Chapel below. Photos courtesy of the Stearns History Museum.

See more of our Frozen In Time series

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