Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Pull off Highway 14 & view the historic buildings of Lamberton June 7, 2012

A portion of Lamberton’s Main Street shows this to be a strong agricultural community.

LAMBERTON. Just another small town on the southwestern Minnesota prairie, so you would think if you’re driving on U.S. Highway 14, The Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Highway.

But this community some dozen miles east of Walnut Grove, destination for fans of “The Little House” books and television series, is worth at least a drive-through if not a stop.

I’ll admit that up until my middle brother moved onto acreage north of Lamberton several years ago, I hadn’t spent much time in this town of 822 except to visit an uncle and aunt who once lived and ran a furniture store here.

I still haven’t explored this agricultural community like I should. But I’ve seen enough to know that I need to look more in depth. Let me show you why, via photos I took, mostly along Main Street, during a brief stop two months ago.

The once-popular corner gas station still stands in downtown Lamberton.

Most small towns once had creameries like this one.

Hanzlik Blacksmith Shop, dating to 1895, was gifted to the city and preserved by the local historical society. With the original wood floor and tools, it’s been called “a warehouse of a long ago lost art” by locals. The community celebrates this piece of history with an annual Hot Iron Days, this year set for September 7 – 8.

It’s the old buildings—from the cute corner gas station to the stout brick creamery to the old wood-frame blacksmith shop—that appeal to me. Some 30 miles to the northwest in my hometown of Vesta, which like Lamberton sits in Redwood County, the old buildings are mostly gone. But not in Lamberton. Here you’ll find plenty of historic buildings to please your artist’s eye and your historian’s heart.

Now all I need is someone with keys so I can take you inside these old buildings.

Vintage signs hold a certain historic charm.

The Music Mart supplies most major brands of band and orchestral instruments. Sales staff reach out to 100-plus schools in southern Minnesota, according to online information. Who would expect to find this type of business in a small town of less than 1,000 residents? Not me.

The Lamberton Antique Peddler is a must-see for anyone who is into antiques. This place is packed with merchandise in the former furniture store once operated by my uncle and aunt, Merlin and Iylene.

The Sewing Shoppe next to the creamery. Love the architecture.

An old Farmall is parked next to a building just off Main Street.

“The locker.”

A low-slung brick building, perhaps a former garage, caught my eye.

TO VIEW ANOTHER particularly beautiful building in Lamberton, a former bakery, click here to read a previous post on Minnesota Prairie Roots.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling