THE LAST TIME I WAS in Cobden, I told my husband, I was photographing a burning building.
That was decades ago, when I worked as a newspaper reporter and photographer for The Sleepy Eye Herald-Dispatch. Thirty-plus years later, I can’t recall what burned, but I think a bar.
Apparently little has changed in Cobden since I raced, with camera and notebook, to this community of 36 residents just off U.S. Highway 14 between Sleepy Eye and Springfield. As I remember, I borrowed a pen (because mine ran out of ink and why didn’t I have a spare?) from a firefighter. Interesting how a detail like that sticks with me.
Today, two bars and grain bins define this community in southwestern Minnesota, which boasts some of our state’s best farmland.
A few months ago while en route to Lamberton, my husband turned our van north off the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Highway to circle through Cobden, past the grain bins and then between the two bars—Minnesota Tubby’s Bar & Grill and Ridin’ High Saloon—which comprise the downtown.
There was no time to stop and explore, only a quick roll down of the van window to shoot the building exteriors under grey and drizzly skies. I wished we had time to park and peek inside Tubby’s, housed in the stately 1915 corner brick State Bank building. I wished I could yank away the sheets of brown metal siding that cover the windows. I wished I could see the old bank interior.
Across the street, Ridin’ High Saloon, from the looks of the exterior signage, caters to bikers.
The machine shed style open air Back Porch gives that rough-and-tumble beer drinking impression, a great place to hang out with friends on a warm summer evening.
Maybe next stop in Cobden will be the charm with no fire to cover, no schedule to keep. Just time for a beer.
© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling