Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

The humor of Hendrum November 7, 2018

The Hendrum welcome sign is posted next to the dike.


WHEN MY FRIEND Tammy gave me directions to her family’s home in Hendrum, she failed to give me the exit number. Not that I expected multiple exits into this community along U.S. Highway 75. But there, on the sign welcoming me into this Red River Valley town of some 300, I read Welcome HENDRUM MINNESOTA Next 9 exits.



I laughed. Simply laughed at the absurdity of nine exits. Already I appreciated the humor of Hendrum, further expounded in the message If You Lived Here You’d be Home Now! Indeed, I would. But my home lies about five hours to the south and east in southern Minnesota, far from this community 30 miles north of Fargo-Moorhead.


Entering Hendrum from the south.


Exits into Hendrum are not exits in the sense that most would think of exits. Rather, Hendrum’s exits are the streets spoking off Highway 75 with the grain elevator, Red River and North Dakota to the west





and the business district, school, Lutheran church and residential neighborhoods to the east.

Tammy told me if we passed the dike protecting Hendrum from Red River flooding, we’d driven too far north. Only a line of trees separates my friend’s backyard from the grassy earthen dike ringing this small town. Her kids use the dike as a sledding hill. Good luck finding a natural hill anywhere near here. This place is flat.


Inside the entry into my friend’s house stands this statue of Bigfoot. It was a gift to her husband, who appreciates this creature that may or may not have been sighted in the area. I saw Bigfoot art on a nearby farm site. Whatever the truth, this Bigfoot art fits well with the humor of Hendrum.


But what Hendrum lacks perhaps in landscape appeal, it makes up for in appealing to those wanting a quiet place in which to raise a family. The median age of Hendrum residents is 37. I was delighted to see that my friend’s younger children built stick and log forts and tended chickens in a backyard coop. They’re actually outdoors, using their imaginations, playing, having fun.



This family of seven could be the poster family of Hendrum, fitting the demographic target market. The town’s website, banners EVERYTHING YOUR FAMILY NEEDS TO SHINE. That would be a low student-to-teacher ratio (although my friend’s kids are homeschooled), a strong and loyal local economy, and no traffic. I can vouch for that lack of traffic congestion.

The creative who put together the city’s website recognizes the strengths of this town:

Our commuters bask in their own quiet retreat, leaving the traffic and hustle in the rearview mirror every day as they head home.

Unlike other small communities surrounding Fargo-Moorhead, Hendrum resides on a quiet MN highway—not a thoroughfare of hurried weekend traffic.

We’re a small community of farmers, bankers, teachers and friends, and we’d love to show you around our neighborhood. We’re the first town with a speed limit north of Moorhead on Highway 75. Come take a tour… you’ll be home before you know it.

Just take one of the nine exits into town…

© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


20 Responses to “The humor of Hendrum”

  1. Funny that Bigfoot makes it out that far on the plains. Thanks for the focus of a small town.

  2. Claudette Says:

    One day, when the kids are out of their sports, I’m going to take a trip through Minnesota and other places in the US of A. I’ll contact you to put the kettle on. 😉

    Fascinating towns, pictures and stories.

  3. Almost Iowa Says:

    Bigfoot? Yikes, and some people complain about garden gnomes.

  4. Kathleen Cassen Mickelson Says:

    “The first town with a speed limit north of Moorhead…” That’s pretty funny!

  5. I think some days small town life would be nice. Love the BIgfoot – ha! 9 exits – of course – got ya! Thanks for sharing – Happy Day – Enjoy 🙂

  6. Gunny Says:

    3rd picture down reminds me of a town (if it is that big) in Arkansas. The Last Chance Saloon reminds me I have had a Schmidt beer in AGES! The carving of Bigfoot inside the door (love it by the way) reminds me of the carving of a camel inside the door of the Camp Verde (Texas) shop. The actual Camp Verde sight is directly south and has historical markers which I tell my Mrs. that these are “Hysterical Markers”. The closest “Post Office” is run by a private contractor and business is conduct in a house that was built around the turn of the century (1900). The closest ACTUAL bonafide post office is further North and sit all by it’s lonesome in a area aptly named “Blazing Meadows” just off of Highway 281. See ya all in June!

  7. Valerie Says:

    I really like the humor of nine exits! Sounds like a hearty place.

  8. Jackie Says:

    I love everything about “TANKS” Barley house, especially the sign.

  9. Curt Johannsen Says:

    “Thank-you” for the awesome story about our town. We are so glad that you enjoyed your stay. Please come back and visit us again soon!
    Our “exits” are always open.

    Curt Johannsen
    Hendrum Mayor

    • You are most welcome, Mayor Johannsen. I love the humor of Hendrum. It is the people who make a place. And the people of Hendrum certainly have a sense of humor, which resonates with me. Thank you for showcasing the welcoming humorous side of your community to this visitor.

  10. Brett Storsved Says:

    I have do many memories growing up there. The Fall Festivals, vacation bible school, 4-H and Boy Scout meetings. Playing touch football at the vacant lot or bloody fingers in the Nelson’s backyard until the street lights came on. No locked their car doors or even their front door. Walking the train tracks or just sitting up at the bank enjoying the summer evening. Riding bike on the trails by the river. High school football games with lights on or basketball games in the humid gym. Running track warmups out to the bridge. Playing the newest arcade game at Quincy’s restaurant. Buying baseball cards at the Hart’s store or at Chet’s cafe.

    It was a great place to grow up.

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.