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Minnesota town home to sinkhole capital of the U.S.

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After the numerous news stories of sinkholes swallowing homes in Florida over the last few years, you wouldn't think that a town in southeastern Minnesota would be home to the sinkhole capital of the United States.

But, it is. Fountain, Minnesota, located in Fillmore County, has billed itself as the "sinkhole capital of the U.S." for more than 25 years.

WCCO says there are more than 10,000 sinkholes of various sizes around the county. There are very sizable sinkholes located between Fountain and Harmony, according to the Root River Guide. There's even an observation deck next to one of the largest sinkholes, which is located along the Root River Trail in Fountain, WCCO says.

The area has so many sinkholes because of its karst topography, which is a region underlain by soluble bedrock like limestone, according to the University of Minnesota. Over time, water dissolves the limestone and the ground above eventually becomes unstable and collapses, according to National Geographic.

The older sinkholes in town are easy to spot – especially on farms. A PBS children's program highlighted Fountain's sinkholes saying once a sinkhole forms there is really no use for the land. Farmers will continue to farm, avoiding the holes and over time copse of trees fill in the unused land.

The darker green marks on the farm in the image below mark the sinkholes, according to an earth science blog focusing on Minnesota.

Luckily for those in Fountain, they don't believe any buildings have been swallowed by a sinkhole, WCCO says.

The sinkholes also make for good treasure hunting. The Fillmore County History Center has a display of antiques recovered from some of the sinkholes in the area, WCCO says. The history center says sinkholes used to be used as dumps.

The sinkhole capital of the U.S. is located just down the road from the bed and breakfast capital of Minnesota. Lanesboro, Minnesota was recently named one of the best small towns to visit in 2014.

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