Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Law & order in Rothsay May 16, 2013

SMALL TOWNS, TIME AND AGAIN, draw me in to explore.

It is the unpretentious genuineness, the make-do, no-frills approach to life that appeals to me. Folks in small towns typically are not trying to impress. Rather, they are simply living their lives—being good neighbors, working hard, getting by on what they have.

I’m not saying big city residents don’t do likewise. I just think the evidence of simpler living is more visible in our rural communities.

Wilkin County Sheriff's Dept. 1

Take Rothsay, population around 500. Just look at the building which houses the Wilkin County Sheriff’s Department in Rothsay, which lies along Interstate 94 some 35 minutes southeast of Fargo.

Wilkin County Sheriff's Dept. 2

Nothing fancy about this vintage trailerhouse, apparently a satellite office for the sheriff’s department based in the county seat of Breckenridge 30 miles distant.

Wilkin County Sheriff's Dept. 3

My husband and I were, should I say, awestruck when we pulled into the downtown business district and spotted this law enforcement headquarters. We’d never seen a sheriff’s office quite like this one.

I knew I’d found a gem, another slice of small-town Minnesota worthy of preserving via a photo shoot.

FYI: Check back tomorrow for more photos from Rothsay.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


16 Responses to “Law & order in Rothsay”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    Ha—what a great sheriff’s office!!! That is awesome!!! Can’t wait to see more pics tomorrow!!!

  2. Marilyn Says:

    Part of the love, the mystic has got to be the juxtaposition of the flag banner, what looks like the next-door diner (where the sheriff no doubt occasionally chews the fat with the locals), and the silvery bank of grain silos in the background. Its got the full flavor of ‘small town Anywhere, USA.’

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      I don’t like to admit this, but I don’t know what business sits next door to the sheriff’s office. Because I didn’t look. I don’t think it’s a diner, though. That would be kitty corner across the street.

  3. Interesting! There is a division of the fire department here that is housed in an office building. I drove by and wondered what the fire trucks were doing there and then realized it is their fire house.

  4. The Blacksmith shop is today again owned by the Johnson family and it does WORK. The last time they provided “tours” and showed it off was at our community celebration last year. Prairie Days!

    They are not scheduled to show it again this year however.

    That is July 12-13 and will be a great time. We have a Rothsay Prairie Days facebook page that you can LIKE also.

    This year we are adding a Farm Machinery Show instead of a Classic Car show and our city parade is always top notch!

    I am glad you missed that fire on 94; ended up having a 7 car / 2 semi pile up.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      A working blacksmith shop–that is great. And wonderful that the Johnson family occasionally gives tours.

      I have viewed the Rothsay Prairie Days Facebook page, but thanks for telling readers about this. Great idea to add a farm machinery show. How appropriate for the region.

      Now that I hear your details about the grass fire on 94, I am even more thankful that we stopped in Rothsay so I could photograph the prairie chicken statue and your town. Had we kept trucking along the interstate, we would have driven right into the mess. I hope there were no injuries. I am grateful to your local resident who advised us to take the county roads.

  5. Rick Fiedler Says:

    Hi Audrey, My Name is Rick Fiedler. I am the Wilkin County Sheriff. Just wanted to thank you for making this post. Our office is shared with many Law Enforcement Departments. We did not have a holding cell in the sub-station. We do have a 22 bed jail in Breckenridge at our main Law Enforcement Center. As Chris (Rothsay Mayor) posted we have removed the sub-station and now have moved into an office at the Rothsay City Hall. I myself live in Rothsay and am also on the Rothsay Fire/Rescue Squad. I am proud of my town and my County. If you ever get through again stop by and we will give you a full tour!! Thanks again for the story!!!!! Rick

    • Sheriff Fiedler, thanks for stopping by to update me on the status of the Rothsay satellite office. You have a charming little community. I love driving into towns like Rothsay and poking around. I doubt I’ll get your way anytime soon, though, as my son transferred from North Dakota State University in Fargo to a Boston area college this fall. That was the reason I was in your region several times a year.

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