Stone Lady of Black Hammer – Black Hammer Township, Minnesota - Atlas Obscura

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Stone Lady of Black Hammer

Black Hammer Township, Minnesota

This cairn in the shape of a woman has looked over a tiny Minnesota town for well over a century. 


The Stone Lady of Black Hammer, also known as the “Mystery Woman on the Hill” is a stone cairn in the shape of a stout woman wearing a hat. It was erected in the late 19th century near the tiny township of Black Hammer, Minnesota. The bluff itself has been a prominent landmark for both the people native to the land and to the Norwegian settlers. The shape of the bluff may have inspired the town of Black Hammer’s name.

According to the Fillmore County Journal, the Stone Lady was most likely built by Black Hammer resident Valtin E. Valtinson, possibly with help from his nephew. The exact year of the landmark’s construction has been the subject of debate—one source says it was built in 1867, but others put the time frame more generally in the 1860s or 1870s. Not long after the Stone Lady was built, Valtinson left Black Hammer for Grand Rapids, Minnesota, though he did return to visit his creation several times.

Though the Stone Lady was originally built as a carefully arranged pile of rocks, cement has been added over the years to help maintain her shape. You can find the Stone Lady just off Houston Country Rd 4, north of Gap Drive. Look for a bluff with a clearing at the top where she stands.

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