Heron Lake - The Lake

Heron Lake, in Jackson County, is not now a healthy body of water. But it has known its period of greatness as a waterfowl paradise and memories of its great fame still linger. During its prime, around the turn of the century and a few decades before, it supported a group of professional wildfowlers plus many others and provided a way of life that has vanished as completely as railroad passenger service.

The lake got its name from the vast colonies of nesting black-crowned night herons that its first visitors found here over a century ago. Later, hunters found "wild celery growing in such profusion that it was difficult to push a boat through it." The great celery beds marked a stage in evolution of the lake, and dependence on artificial maintenance of the remaining shallow water. Depletion of the wild celery followed shortly after the arrival of the carp. By 1922 the great gatherings of the diving ducks, which fed on the celery, headed by the Canvasbacks and the Redheads, largely ceased.

Canada geese, who long since moved north to the Canadian nesting areas, reproduced there in quantity, as did the now almost extinct Trumpeter Swans. There were White Pelicans, Cormorants, Whistling Swans, Sandhill Cranes, Whooping Cranes and vast flocks of shorebirds, including vanished kinds such as the Long-billed Curlew, Willet and Avocet and immense numbers of the now extinct Eskimo Curlew.

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(The History of the city of Heron Lake was obtained from the following sources:  1883-1983 Heron Lake 100 Years of Good Living, Consultation and Composition by Gary Richter, a Project of the Heron Lake Centennial Book Committee;  Heron Lake, Minnesota - Centennial +5 1988; Consultation and Composition by Gary Richter, A project of the Heron Lake Centennial-Committee; and An Illustrated History of Jackson County Minnesota, Vol. I and II by Arthur P Rose.)