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Oliver Kelley Farm, Elk River

Categories: Farms, Tourist Spots
Inspirock Rating:
4.6/5 based on 20+ reviews on the web
Public hours are weekends in May and September, Wednesday through Sunday Memorial Day through Labor Day. Open year round for groups of 15 or more by reservation.
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  • My 2 year old daughter and I went on a Friday afternoon which was nice as there weren't many people there at that time. It was great to see the oxen pulling in a load full of oats from the field when ...  read more »
  • We used to live close to here and often visited to experience MN history firsthand. It's best to go on a day with a special event: harvesting, bailing hay, wedding were some of the choices back when w...  read more »
  • Wife and I took two of our granddaughters, ages 3 1/2 and 5 today. Beautiful weather, 79 and sunny. Today was molasses making day. Besides seeing the farm as it operated in the 1800s, we participated....  read more »
  • We visited at the end of September when the farm was making sorghum molasses. The kids got to help press the canes through a horse-powered press to extract the juice. We later helped the ladies in the kitchen make molasses candy with the boiled down and cooled "syrup". It was very delicious. For the price of admission, we took a horse drawn carriage ride through the property, petted many animals, toured the grounds and learned all about life on this historic 1860s property. This was a nicely preserved and beautiful farm. It is a great place to relax and get away from modern conveniences for the day. I highly recommend a visit or two throughout the year.
  • I visited the farm in 2008 during Minnesota's Sesquicentennial. Our group walked the Pembina Trail from Pembina, North Dakota to Saint Paul, Minnesota with an ox and two-wheeled cart. My wife and I walked with the Orlin Ostby family and their Holstein ox,' Pum'. Orlin wanted so much to go to the Kelly Farm in Elk River with Pum, but I think we were judged not realistic enough, although we dressed somewhat like the Metis ox cart drivers and women folk who drove the miles long ox cart caravans from Fort Garry (Winnipeg) to Saint Paul in the early 1800s. Stopping for a day at Kelly Farms was an education, bar none. Every person on the farm was dressed in period clothes and never broke character. I was so impressed when a young woman came from the garden, her hands encrusted in dirt from working there, her vegetables were carried in a woven basket in her long-sleeved arms, her head covered in a bonnet; her reddened cheeks dusty from the heat of the day. The house windows were open, but there were no screens on them; I felt like I had passed through a time warp, and there I was as an invisible observer of an early American household living there on the Minnesota prairie. The barn and corrals of cattle and horses; the harnesses shiny with wear; the men and boys busy in their chore work. Amazing stuff; simple stuff. A team of shorthorn oxen from Kelly Farm, were working a small field at the Nowthen (a real town near Elk River) Fair or Threshing Event (I don't recall what the event was exactly) They were plowing a sandy field with a little grade to it. After walking nearly 200 miles to get there, all in the spirit of 150 years of celebrating Minnesota statehood, when an opportunity came to plow with those oxen I readily took the challenge. The temperatures were into the nineties; the oxen wore baskets over their noses to keep them from taking a bite of grass as we walked the field. It wasn't until the 2nd pass that I finally got the hang of plowing; pushing the handles down only serves to force the plowshare out of the ground. Lifting the handles somewhat, tips the plowshare into the ground. I'll never forget that dusty experience. Behind oxen or horses,walking behind a plow is something my father, his father and his father before him all had done as Iowa farmers. What a great experience! Although I haven't been there recently, Kelly Farm remains as a fond memory. Go there with a inquisitive mind; participate with sincerity. Appreciate the re-enactors willingness to give of their time to energize this pastoral painting.
  • Great place to bring the family, as you're allowed to explore and experience everything at your own pace. Staff is interactive and does an exceptional job getting kids involved with chores/activities, all while adding context and history to enhance the learning.
  • Beautiful and educational, best of both worlds
  • Such a cool place to see how it was back in the 1800s
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