Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Utica, not New York, but Minnesota February 23, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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A farm site just minutes east of Utica.

A farm site just minutes east of Utica in southeastern Minnesota.

YOU NEVER KNOW what oddities will surprise you in a small town, which is precisely why I delight in exploring rural communities.

Utica, a town of about 300 located along U.S. Highway 14 between Rochester and Winona, definitely presented some attractions worth photographing this past September. I use the word “attractions” loosely. What I find interesting may go unnoticed by others.

I'm always happy to see a grain elevator that has been maintained and is appreciated.

I’m always happy to see a grain elevator that has been maintained and is appreciated. These are small town treasures.

It was the red and grey grain elevator jutting above Utica that drew my husband and me off the highway and into this community as a freight train roared through town.

Utica may not have a website, but it has this sign to tell you a bit about the town.

Utica may not have a website, but it has this sign to tell you a bit about the town.

From there we swung onto Main Street and noted that Utica was founded in 1858, if the signage on Utica Storage is accurate. We laughed at the “ELV. PRETTY HIGH” notation.

The law.

The law…

...up close.

…up close.

And, if not for Randy, I would have missed the 10 Commandments posted on the front of the building.

The "can't miss it" house.

The “can’t miss it” house.

Then, in a residential area, a Victorian house painted in lavender hues presided on a corner. I wondered for a second if it might be a tea house, but saw no such signage. Apparently the owner just really likes this hue given the outbuildings are also painted lavender.

This reminded me of my Aunt Marilyn, whose house is not lavender, but who loves the color. And I once worked with legendary Northfield News editor Maggie Lee, who wore only lavender.

Utica is definitely a farming community.

Utica is definitely a farming community.

Utica’s final attractions were two tractors—a wonderfully restored John Deere and a rusting Farmall—staged for sale outside a shed.

Now, if we’d taken the fast route home via Interstate 90, we would have missed all of this. Utica would remain just a sign along the interstate. I would know nothing of its character, its individuality, its colors.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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19 Responses to “Utica, not New York, but Minnesota”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    Love the Victorian house and the colors seem perfect for it.

  2. treadlemusic Says:

    From a blustery snow-scape post to a warm and lovely corn-growing vista!!!! Love your blog!!! LOL!

  3. Marneymae Says:

    That sign called up a laugh!
    Back road driving offers many special sights.
    It’s my favorite way to get to places.

  4. I was most taken by the 10 commandments on the side of the storage building. God is truly still alive and well in America.. Amen. And as an after-thought: How much litigation could be avoided and how many fewer lawyers would we need if only we would follow the 9th Commandment “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor”?

  5. Thread crazy Says:

    Love the purple Victorian home…yes, it would make one think it might be a tea room. I’m like you as I like to get off the interstate and take the back roads.

  6. Jackie Says:

    I have popped through Utica a few times, I do remember that lavender house, I would love to see the inside.

  7. Don Says:

    I truly like Victorian houses, such great old time architecture. Have you been past it since September? The picture looks like they were getting ready to paint as it shows new painted areas on the pillars and trim work.
    The green grass and trees make me long for summer along with the corn fields which I severely miss!
    Enough white already…………………………

  8. Carol King Says:

    A lavender house and a public posting of the Ten Commandments. What’s not to love about Utica?!

  9. Love the you can’t miss it house with great Windows to knit in front of


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