Quarry Hill Park and Nature Center, 701 Silver Creek Road, NE, Rochester, Minnesota

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*2009 – Butterfly Garden created
*2009 – Butterfly Garden created
This is the work of Jessy Countney

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Quarry Hill Park and Nature Center

Address: 701 Silver Creek Road NE
Rochester, Minnesota
Olmstead County, Minnesota
State/province: Minnesota
Country: United States
Year Established: 1965
Historic Function: State Hospital
Other Historic Function: State Hospital
Current Function: Park

Rochester Olmstead


Site History

Quarry Hill Park and Nature Center is a large nature park, with an educational center on campus, in the Northeastern quadrant of Rochester, Minnesota. The park is not only natural and educational, but also recreational and hosts many opportunities for community involvement.

Current functions include: Pond Fishing, Exhibition Hall with classrooms, live animals, and educated staff, Rock-Wall Climbing, Cave Tours, Hiking/Biking Trails, Butterfly Gardens, Rochester State Hospital’s Historic Cemetery, Oak Savanna and Woodlands

Quarry Hill Park, established in 1965, began on the grounds of Rochester State Hospital and still proudly features locations from their establishment. Immediately, afterwards the Park began its development as an educational and community hub, which it still exists as today. It is recognized regionally for its historic, natural, educational, and ceremonial qualities.

In the 1870’s, the Rochester State Hospital was established as the only hospital in the region, on what today is the Quarry Hill Park. In the 1880’s, caves, reservoirs, and quarries were built as supporting features to the Hospital. However, after the success of the Mayo Clinic in the early 1900’s and the national trend of mental institution controversies through the 1960-70’s, the City of Rochester bought land from the Hospital’s Farm to create the Quarry Hill Park in 1965. School field trips began in 1966, starting the tradition of the Park as the recreational and educational haven it is today. Later, in 1972 the Nature Center was added and in 1982 the Hospital officially closed. Through the years, Quarry Hill Park and Nature Center has accumulated over 320 acres of land. Today, the site features many different ecological systems (rivers, woodlands, limestone savanna, prairies, etc.), recreational opportunities (tours, rentals, summer camps, etc.) and only hopes to expand its Exhibition Hall into a grander community space to honor natural and regional history.


  • 1870’s – The State Hospital bought land and established their medical campus
  • 1880’s – The State Hospital built reservoirs, quarries, and excavated caves for Hospital use
  • 1886 – Hospital Cemetery used and still holds over 2,000 graves
  • 1965 – City of Rochester bought land from Hospital to create Quarry Hill Park
  • 1966 – Rochester Public Schools begins programming at Park
  • 1972 – Nature Center constructed to house all-season educational outings
  • 1978 – Pond was excavated
  • 1982 – Rochester State Hospital officially closes
  • 1990 – Renovation adds classrooms, library, and bird-watching space; Fall Harvest Festival began
  • 1992 – 58 additional acres bought
  • 1996 – Oak Savanna Project began with DNR
  • 1998 – 20 additional acres bought
  • 2001 – 24 additional acres bought
  • 2003 – Creatures of the Night, Halloween-themed event, begins
  • 2007 – Rochester State Hospital Recognition Group marks 500+ headstones in Historic Cemetery
  • 2009 – Butterfly Garden created

This is the work of Jessy Countney

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Related Links


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