Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Driving into a ghost town on Hogsback Road July 23, 2012

An old building, perhaps a former blacksmith shop, in Belvidere Mills.

GHOST TOWNS INTRIGUE ME. I wonder—who lived in these places and were these towns once thriving and why did people leave?

Often, placement of the railroad determined which Minnesota town survived, which did not.

Recently my husband and I, on one of our day trips, turned off Goodhue County Road 3 about 10 miles south of Red Wing, onto Hogsback Road and into Belvidere Mills.

Yes, Hogsback Road. When you read a street sign like that, you just know there’s a story somewhere that’s been passed down from generation to generation. If only I knew the right old codger to consult for a little history lesson on the road that now also is called Wellscreek Trail. I’ll travel on Hogsback Road, thank you.

The former Belvidere Mills creamery, modernized into a garage.

The first view we got of the lovely old barn in Belvidere Mills.

And so we did, up the hill on Hogsback Road past a handful (or less) of houses and the old creamery and a stately red barn and past another old building (perhaps a blacksmith shop), around a curve in the gravel road and we were already out of Belvidere Mills. We turned around and backtracked.

Our second view, the side, of the barn as we backtracked into the ghost town.

And back again past the old building in the top photograph, this a side shot. What is it, readers?

Thanks to signage placed by the Goodhue County Historical Society along the county road, we knew this was the site of the former Belvidere Mills, established in 1858.

The historical society has marked some 60 ghost towns in Goodhue County with signage to “preserve their history and to recognize their historical contribution.” All either once had, or currently have, post offices.

They also have intriguing names like Black Oak, Cannon Junction, Featherstone, Roscoe Centre, Skyberg and White Willow.

And then there are the Goodhue County Minnesota ghost towns of—ready for this—Lena, Norway and Miami.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


Hey, Ole, can you tell me about Eidsvold, Minnesota? April 7, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 7:54 AM
Tags: , ,

Is this a hitching post at historic Eidsvold, in southeastern MN.? This ghost town's one remaining building stands in the background.

FROM OUR ROADSIDE perspective, the cement post near the ditch along Goodhue County Road 30 appears to be a historical marker. After all, a road sign posted by the county historical society denotes this as the former site of Eidsvold.

But when I walk up to the marker, I find no words, only a plain column topped by two iron semi-circles embedded in the cement.

My husband and I, who are on a Sunday afternoon drive into the historical Sogn Valley area of Minnesota, conclude this is a hitching post. Are we right?

We wonder too about the dilapidated building a stone’s throw away. Ignoring signs to keep out, we move in closer. I step over fallen branches to peer inside the structure, where oats spill from an open doorway.

Wood, muted gray by exposure to the elements, and rugged limestone, stacked irregularly to form an interior wall, invite me to wonder about this building’s history.

Who built this structure? When? And was it always used for grain storage?

I wonder, because I am always and forever wondering.

Who lived in this ghost town presumably named after Eidsvoll, Norway?

Up close, this sure looks like a hitching post to me. Am I right?

The Goodhue County Historical Society placed this historical interest sign at the ghost town of Eidsvold. The sign was erected to preserve the history of this former post office site and to recognize its historical contribution to the area.

A peek inside the interior of Eidsvold's single remaining structure reveals oats strewn on the floor.

© Copyright 2010 Audrey Kletscher Helbling