Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

West of Mankato August 23, 2017

Cattle graze in a pasture along U.S. Highway 14.

Cattle graze in a pasture along U.S. Highway 14.

 

WHEN I TELL FELLOW MINNESOTANS I grew up on the southwestern Minnesota prairie, specifically near the small town of Vesta, I typically get a blank stare. So, when “Vesta” doesn’t register with them, I mention Marshall to the west and Redwood Falls to the east of my hometown. Both are county seats and fair-sized communities, in my opinion.

 

Driving on U.S. Highway 14 around Mankato traveling to southwestern Minnesota.

Driving on U.S. Highway 14 around Mankato traveling through southern Minnesota toward the prairie.

 

Even after dropping those two names, I still often get that quizzical look. It’s as if they have no idea there’s anything west of Mankato.

 

This barn along U.S. Highway 14 west of Sleepy Eye always catches my eye.

Gotta love this barn between Sleepy Eye and Springfield.

 

Grain storage along U.S. Highway 14.

Grain storage along U.S. Highway 14.

 

 

But there is. Lots. Land and sky and small towns and oddities and grain elevators, and corn and soybean fields stretching into forever. There are pitch-black skies perfect for star-gazing and sunsets so bold I sometimes wonder why I ever left this land.

 

There are so many well-kept barns along U.S. Highway 14, this one between Mankato and Nicollet.

There are so many beautiful old barns along U.S. Highway 14, this one between Mankato and Nicollet.

 

I understand beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I simply want others to see that this corner of Minnesota, just like the lakes and woods to the north and the rolling hills and rivers to the south and the Twin Cities metro, is lovely and quirky and interesting in a peaceful prairie way.

 

BONUS PHOTOS:

U.S. Highway 14 passes through many small towns, like Sleepy Eye where these guys were shopping for a car.

Shopping for cars in Sleepy Eye, one of many small towns along U.S. Highway 14 in southwestern Minnesota.

 

A farm site between Mankato and Nicollet.

A farm site between Mankato and Nicollet.

 

Baling the road ditch between Mankato and New Ulm.

Baling the road ditch between Mankato and New Ulm.

 

If you appreciate barns, this area of Minnesota offers plenty of barn gazing.

If you appreciate barns, this area of Minnesota offers plenty of barn gazing.

 

FYI: All of these photos are from my files and were taken along U.S. Highway 14 between Mankato and Lamberton. That would be west of Mankato.

© Copyright 2017 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Advertisements
 

18 Responses to “West of Mankato”

  1. Jackie Says:

    Did you write this post with me in mind??? “If you appreciate barns this area of Minnesota offers plenty of barn gazing”…… I am guilty of not going much past Mankato, but my intent is to explore this SW Minnesota you speak of. It’ll happen, it’s on my list of road trips yet to do. Your photo’s and word intrigue me 🙂

  2. Caryl Larson Says:

    Our daughter went to college in Mankato and when she said she was from Brookings, SD people seemed to think she came from a thousand miles away. It’s 150 miles straight on Highway 14. Geez.

  3. Almost Iowa Says:

    Mankato? Isn’t that somewhere west of Brooklyn and east of San Francisco? 🙂

  4. Loving your photos – Hello! memory lane – our barn looked like the one in the last photo. I know where you are from because my paternal side is from that area and family still lives in the area. Happy Day – Enjoy 🙂

  5. Joan Quiram Says:

    I love the pictures of the barns and fields. This is my stomping ground! 🙂

  6. As alway great photos but man that farm site! Wow, I wonder if they want a roommate. I’ll Knit them free hats as bribery

  7. Don Says:

    Audrey, I use Mankato as a point of reference when telling of my home town i.e. “Mountain Lake is about 50 miles southwest of Mankato”. Your pictures take my minds eye back to the area, thank you very much you made me smile!

  8. Neil Says:

    I guess most areas of the the U.S. (and the world, for that matter) have regions similar to this. I have a neighbor that always says she lives “in the middle of nowhere” whenever someone asks her where she lives. Even people in our local area are often unfamiliar with the two towns that are closest to our farms. We are fortunate that the county seat (Sedalia, MO) is the host city of our annual State Fair. For that single reason, most people in the state at least know where Sedalia is located. Otherwise, “the middle of nowhere” is as good an answer as telling them the name of the nearest town.

  9. Norma Says:

    Reading this post made me laugh because I can relate to people not knowing where the town is that I was raised in. I lived in Armona, Ca. from birth, until marriage 20 years later. I tell people Armona. I get the response, ”
    where is that? I say between Hanford and Lemoore. “Oh, I didn’t know there was a town there.” So, I think Vesta and Armona are related.


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 )

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s