Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Westward, ho: A surprising discovery at the Cannon Mall March 16, 2017


I’VE SHOPPED MANY ANTIQUE stores and malls. But this is a first: an 1840 Conestoga wagon for sale. Not to be confused with a covered wagon, this heavy-duty wagon hails from the Conestoga River region of Pennsylvania.


Beautiful lighting marks Thora Mae’s inside the Cannon Mall.


Inside the Cannon Mall, which houses about a half-dozen businesses.


Storefront windows to Thora Mae’s Timeless Treasures, 31284 64th Avenue Path, Cannon Falls.


If not for my husband noticing a fabric Antiques sign fluttering in the breeze along the highway, we would have missed this rare find inside the Cannon Mall in Cannon Falls. We didn’t even know the mall existed and we’ve visited this southeastern Minnesota community numerous times.


Vintage and other signage directs shoppers to Thora Mae’s.


Thora Mae’s has lots of vintage signage, most of it rural, for sale.


Another sign at Thora Mae’s…


But there is was, hidden from our view and housing a hardware store, Chinese restaurant, dollar store, an occasional shop and Thora Mae’s Timeless Treasures. This is one antique shop worth your visit. It’s bright, well-organized and filled with an abundance of yesteryear merchandise.



Given our late arrival shortly before closing on a Saturday afternoon, Randy and I had minimal time to poke around. And I spent some of that precious shopping time focused on the Conestoga wagon. Signage reveals the wagon traveled four times along the Oregon Trail and was used on the set of the TV western “Wagon Train.” That series ran from 1957 – 1965.



Dr. Joseph Link Jr. donated the wagon to the Hamilton County Park District in, I believe, the Cincinnati area in 1975. I couldn’t access online info to learn more during a quick search.


There’s even a western theme in a portion of this Thora Mae’s window display.


Now, if you’re my Baby Boomer age, you grew up watching and re-enacting westerns and appreciate anything that jolts those childhood memories. Right now I’m thinking straw cowboy hats, cap guns, stick horses and a red wagon, aka an improvised covered wagon.



For $6,000, I could have the real deal, the real experience and a genuine piece of early American history.



TELL ME: What’s the oddest thing you’ve ever seen for sale at an antique shop?

© Copyright 2017 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


17 Responses to “Westward, ho: A surprising discovery at the Cannon Mall”

  1. Tom Bosshardt Says:

    That is not the norm for a covered wagon. Generally they were a one way trip on the Oregon trail. That trail was really tough on wagons as they crossed the Rocky’s. Grew up in Faribault. Moved to Nebraska in 1972 and Kearney sits on 3 trails. Oregon, Mormon and California trails all merged in our area. Right now we have 500,000 sand hills cranes hanging around get fat to make the final leg of their trip to Canada and Siberia.

  2. Almost Iowa Says:

    Oooo, that looks like a Saturday drive. 🙂

    • There’s lots to see in Cannon Falls. More blog posts forthcoming. But do your homework before you travel there. I didn’t and thus missed some places that would interest me. That just means a return trip. You’ll find several antique shops downtown and another along Fourth Street on the edge of town. Stop at the Cannon River Winery and at the really good bakery. Also, drive through the residential areas and look for limestone buildings. Don’t miss the murals and the aged buildings downtown. You can easily spend a day in Cannon Falls.

      • Almost Iowa Says:

        I visit Cannon Falls regularly in the summer to bike the Cannon Valley Trail. I also bike out of Faribault too. Starting and ending at the Dairy Queen… 🙂

        I suppose you have, but I don’t remember you having written about the bike trails.

      • No, I haven’t written about the bike trails other than walking along them.

        Glad to hear you are using the Faribault areas trails and the ones in Cannon Falls.

  3. Randy Says:

    Your next vacation could take to roads less traveled.

  4. Sue Ready Says:

    Seems like a fair price just think is could change the way you and Randy travel about the countryside exploring. things.

  5. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    Love the wagon! That looks like a fun mall to poke around in

  6. Gunny Says:

    On the Conestoga. I mentioned this item was for sale to a private museum. It seems that a 100+ MPH wind blew theirs across about 100 feet of parking lot before destroying the top.

    Most (I think) unusual item I found was a wedding photograph of a couple in Aberdeen South Dakota (Dakota Territory at the time the image was made). This would not be unusual except that I found it in Brazoria, Texas! Brazoria Texas existed when Texas was a Mexican state or way before 1836/ I estimate the image was made after 1881 but before 1889.

    • If the private museum owner purchases the Conestoga in Cannon Falls, I want commission. 🙂 Seriously. I once blogged about an elephant slide for sale in Faribault. A woman from New York read the post and traveled all the way here to buy the slide for, I believe $700. I connected her with the owner, facilitating the sale. I expected some sort of monetary “thank you” for my efforts, but that did not happen. Sigh.

      That’s interesting on the South Dakota photo appearing in Texas. My nephew was married in Aberdeen. It’s out there on the prairie.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.