Who needs to leave Minn. to see the world?

Published 9:12 am Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Column: Pothole Prairie, by Tim Engstrom

There is a saying about Minnesota weather. We don’t have to travel to see the world because weather from around the world comes here. We get the Arctic, the Gulf Coast, the American West, Alberta Clippers, Tornado Alley, you name it.

The same goes for visiting places with famous names. Heck, I’ve been to London and Geneva, and I didn’t even need to leave Freeborn County. Not far away are Austin, Madison, Houston, Caledonia, Wyoming and Hastings. Better yet, our Hastings doesn’t have the reputation stain of a bloody battle for England back in 1066.

Email newsletter signup

We have an Alexandria, an Argyle, an Avon (not just cosmetics or a river in England), a Belgrade, a Brownsville, a Cambridge, a Cologne, a Dakota, a Danube, a Darfur, a Delhi, an Elba, a Georgetown, a Ghent, a Hackensack, a Holland, a Medina, a Milan, a Montevideo, a Racine, an Upsala (not spelled quite like the one in Sweden), a Virginia, a Woodstock and an Utica. Our Rochester isn’t bigger than New York’s, but ours is gaining population and New York’s is losing.

Minneapolis is the Mini Apple, and we can drive around the state to find Big Apple places such as Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn Park, New York Mills and a singular Hampton. We have many places newer than the old versions. There are New Auburn, New Brighton, New Germany, New Hope, New London, New Market, New Munich, New Prague, New Richland, New Trier and New Ulm. Believe me, New Richland is way better than Old Richland.

Oak Park is near Chicago, but Minnesota one-ups it with Oak Park Heights. Who needs to go to South Carolina when we have Columbia Heights? Who cares about Detroit when we have Detroit Lakes? Forget St. Louis. We have St. Louis Park.

Speaking of saints, our fair state shows its devotion with a long list of cities named for saints: St. Anthony, St. Augusta, St. Bonifacius, St. Charles, St. Clair, St. Francis, St. Hilaire, St. James, St. Leo, St. Martin, St. Michael, St. Rosa, St. Stephen and St. Vincent. Heck, our capital city is St. Paul, and it almost was St. Peter.

We don’t have a Tokyo, but we do have a Chokio. Close enough, right?

Starting a trip? Begin in Welcome. Looking for thrills? Go to Climax. Want to experience an ancient Greek afterlife? Visit Elysian. Are you angry at the government? Head out to Federal Dam. Need to kill time? Visit Waite Park. Want your child to be born free? Give birth in Freeborn. Need a good place to sit? Bump into Kiester. When you get tired of driving around, end your trip in Sleepy Eye.

We even name towns for famous cats. OK, Garfield is actually named for the 20th U.S. president and Morris for a railroad engineer, but we prefer to believe they were named for the comic strip fat cat and the finicky star of 9Lives cat food TV commercials.

We like our weather enough to name our towns after it. Storms are all the rage in Good Thunder. An early winter is no problem in Frost. Spring is the thing in Blooming Prairie and Grand Meadow. Summer is a good time to be in Breezy Point.

Iowa has a Thor, but Minnesota responds with an Odin and a Viking.

The Land of 10,000 Lakes has a long list of cities with the word “lake” in the name: Buffalo Lake, Cass Lake, Clear Lake, Crosslake, Detroit Lakes, Eagle Lake, East Gull Lake, Elbow Lake, Fifty Lakes, Forest Lake, Gem Lake, Ham Lake (yummy!), Heron Lake, Howard Lake, Hoyt Lakes, Lake Benton, Lake Bronson, Lake City (they had dibs on this one first), Lake Crystal, Lake Elmo, Lakefield, Lake Henry, Lakeland, Lakeland Shores, Lake Lillian, Lake Park, Lake St. Croix Beach (confusing!), Lake Shore, Lakeville, Lake Wilson, Lino Lakes, Long Lake, Madison Lake, Maple Lake, Medicine Lake, Minnesota Lake, Moose Lake, Mountain Lake, Pequot Lakes, Pleasant Lake, Prior Lake (it came before, apparently), Red Lake Falls, Round Lake, Silver Lake, Spring Lake Park, Squaw Lake, Sturgeon Lake, Sunfish Lake, Twin Lakes, White Bear Lake (Go Bears!), Wolf Lake and Wood Lake.

Now, people born and raised in Minnesota might not know where all the cities in Minnesota are, but they sure seem to know where all the lakes are. Maybe it has to do with how they love to fish.

“Have you been to Marcell?”

“No, where is dat?”

“It’s up dare by Spider Lake and Turtle Lake, you know?”

“Oh, ya!”

OK, I am just kidding, but it is a bit true of some folks here in the Gopher State.


Tribune Managing Editor Tim Engstrom’s column appears every Tuesday.

About Tim Engstrom

Tim Engstrom is the editor of the Albert Lea Tribune. He resides in Albert Lea with his wife, two sons and dog.

email author More by Tim