During the 19th century, the bluff functioned as a visual reference for explorers and travelers. It was used as a limestone quarry for about 40 years until citizens protested the defacing of the bluff. The quarrying operation was shut down in 1908. In 1910, the land was donated to the city as a park.
A Dakota legend about the bluff tells that hundreds of years ago, a mountain twice as big stood in the place of Barn Bluff. The residents of two Dakota villages disputed the possession of the mountain. As a compromise, the Great Spirit divided the mountain into two parts. One part stayed in Red Wing, and the other part was moved downstream to Winona, Minn., where it is known as Sugar Loaf.
Photo taken by Pamela J. Erickson. Released into the public domain August 3, 2013,
as long as acknowledgement included.