Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Part I from Wanamingo, a classic small town in Minnesota March 21, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
Tags: , , , , , ,
Driving into downtown Wanamingo along Minnesota State Highway 57 on a Saturday afternoon.

Driving into downtown Wanamingo along Minnesota State Highway 57 on a recent Saturday afternoon.

ON THE CITY WEBSITE, Wanamingo is described as a classic small Midwestern town in Southeastern Minnesota. That seems accurate.

What then is a classic small Midwestern town?

Visiting early Saturday afternoon in downtown Wanamingo.

Visiting early on a Saturday afternoon in downtown Wanamingo.

It is a place where, on a Saturday afternoon in March, two guys lean on the back of a pick-up truck and converse outside a bar and grill.

Posted at a local park. I edited the phone number from the photo.

Posted at a local park. I edited the phone number from the photo.

It’s a place where a notice in the park information center requests help in finding Belle, a missing Siamese cat.

Walking the puppy downtown. Wanamingo still has an old style water tower.

Walking the puppy downtown. Wanamingo still has an old style water tower.

It’s a place where a friendly young couple walks their curly-haired puppy, allows a visitor to pet him and then wishes the out-of-towner a good afternoon.

 

Small town Wanamingo, 37 parts service

 

Small town Wanamingo, 40 insurance building

 

Small town Wanamingo, 36 grain bins

 

It’s a place with solid brick buildings in a downtown occupied by businesses like a meat market, a bar, a cafe, a garage, law and insurance offices, and grain bins banking the north end of Main Street.

 

I love the classic corner angled gas station.

I love the classic corner angled gas station.

Wanamingo has that small town rural feel, that sense of life moving at a slower pace. Traffic is minimal downtown, even though Minnesota State Highway 57 doubles as Main Street. And, yes, the main street is named Main Street.

 

Small town Wanamingo, 46 bike in yard

 

In this classic small Midwestern town, kids drop bikes in yards.

 

Beautiful Trinity Lutheran Church. I'll take you on a tour of the church in an upcoming post.

I’ll take you inside Trinity Lutheran Church in an upcoming post.

A life-long resident tinkers with a light post outside Trinity Lutheran, a stalwart brick corner church that holds the histories of so many local families. Births, marriages, deaths.

Wanamingo, platted in 1904, is not Utopia. No place is. But it is a community of about 1,100 that seems, from outward appearances, to care, to want to look its best, to be the kind of place folks want to visit or call home. It is a classic small Midwestern town.

FYI: Check back tomorrow for the second post in my “from Wanamingo” series. I’ll take you inside the Area 57 Coffee Cafe.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling