Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Aspelund: More than a southern Minnesota ghost town June 15, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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A lovely sprawling home in Aspelund.

A lovely, sprawling farm home in Aspelund.

TECHNICALLY, ASPELUND is classified as a ghost town by the Goodhue County Historical Society. There’s no longer a post office in this spot along County 1 Boulevard in west central Goodhue County, apparently the reason for the ghost town tag.

The community's church, Emmanuel Lutheran.

The community’s church, Emmanuel Lutheran.

But my observations, and thus definition, of Aspelund differ. People still live here—on at least two farms—and worship here and attend to local government business in the Wanamingo Town Hall.

The area around Aspelund is beautiful Minnesota countryside with a mix of fields and woods, flatland and hills.

The area around Aspelund is beautiful Minnesota countryside with a mix of fields and woods, flatland and hills.

Aspelund doesn’t appear ghost townish to me. Rural, yes.

Making hay on the outskirts of Aspelund.

Working an alfalfa field on the outskirts of Aspelund.

One of two barns in Aspelund.

One of two barns in Aspelund.

Traffic through Aspelund on Sunday afternoon.

Traffic through Aspelund on Sunday afternoon.

On Sunday afternoon, I observed farmers in fields, a youth group meeting in Emmanuel Lutheran Church, and a biker, motorists and farmers passing through this settlement.

Inside Emmanuel Lutheran Church.

Inside Emmanuel Lutheran Church. Local churches centered the community, especially during the days of early settlement.

Places like Aspelund impress upon me their historical and current value in rural Minnesota. Mostly Norwegians settled here to farm the land, to re-establish their lives in a new land of opportunity. I admire their strength and determination. They endured much—poverty, isolation, disease, homesickness and more. They persevered. Just like their descendants who remain 150-plus years later.

The old Wanamingo Township Hall, built in 1862, stands next to the church.

The old Wanamingo Township Hall, built in 1862, stands next to the church.

Aspelund’s ethnic roots are documented in family names on gravestones, in the records of churches like Emmanuel and nearby Holden Lutheran, and in current voter registration rolls.

The current town hall.

The current town hall.

Even the name of the settlement itself, Aspelund, comes from a town in Norway. Oh, how those early immigrants must have missed their homeland. And how their descendants still appreciate the Mother Land today.

Photographed in Aspelund.

Photographed in Aspelund.

FYI: Check back tomorrow as I take you into the Emmanuel cemetery. Click here to read yesterday’s post about Aspelund Winery and Aspelund Peony Gardens.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


31 Responses to “Aspelund: More than a southern Minnesota ghost town”

  1. So a town is called a ghost town if it has no post office though there is a huge push by the powers that be to close rural post offices. Makes no sense does it. c

  2. Marneymae Says:

    The old Wanamingo township hall is such an appealing building.
    So beautiful.

  3. Beth Ann Says:

    The farms and the church certainly do tell a story, don’t they? You are always able to find some interesting places that others overlook and that is a gift. Another great series to promote rural America. Way to go.

  4. Dan Traun Says:

    Town – n. an urban area that has a name, defined boundaries, and local government, and that is generally larger than a village and smaller than a city. I guess it is lacking the “urban area” 🙂 I know the area well and drive through it often. It is beautiful country. My wife and I photographed a wedding in that church; beautiful light in there.

  5. I want to escape to the country – Beautiful Captures – I want a look inside that farm house 🙂 Happy Day – Enjoy!

  6. Kathleen Cassen Mickelson Says:

    I, too, am surprised that the lack of a PO turns a place in to a ghost town! If that’s the case, I believe we saw a lot of them on our recent road trip to the west coast. There are many, many little tiny communities out there in rural America. And they all have their own beauty.

    • Agreed. So that’s where you’ve been. I look forward to reading about your adventures. Welcome home to Minnesota.

      I’ve barely begun documenting our East Coast road trip. I got sidetracked this week by Aspelund.

  7. Don Says:

    I would be happy living there not a stoplight in sight! Nice pictures humm is there a town/village there?

    • What you see is Aspelund. No town/village here. Just those town halls, church, cemetery, two farmhouses and two barns. So I’m not sure where you would live. No other houses. Not a campground. Not a hotel. Well, you get the picture.

  8. That farm house in your first photo… wow. Stunning. That is my dream home!

  9. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    I wouldn’t say ghost town either. Love that house and the inside of that church is stunning. Love the old truck

  10. Sue Ready Says:

    I enjoyed your observations of the town, the buildings and sprawling rural countryside. it is a gift that you have to always be able to find some noteworthy observations others may have overlooked.

  11. conrad Wetzel Says:

    I would like to know more about the church and town. My great grandmother- Wetzel (maiden Anderson), her father, mother and siblings are buried in the church cemetery. Conrad Wetzel

    • Conrad, I wish I could help you. But your best option would be to contact Emmanuel Lutheran Church. I hope you find the info you are seeking.

      • conrad Wetzel Says:

        Thank you – will send a letter to church. Am interested in finding out why my great grandfather Wetzel is not buried with his wife. Also why and how the Wetzels land in Minnesota – particularly Goodhue County. On my trips north from southern Illinois have visited Red Wing and other towns in southeastern Minnesota, including Aspelund. Have enjoyed the area. Must be something in the “roots”.

      • Sounds good.

        Yes, this region of Minnesota is beautiful. Thanks for visiting via my blog.

  12. Leanne Hahn Says:

    Were you initially drawn to Aspelund because of your roots (the Aspelund family tree) ?

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