Monday, September 22, 2014

Walking in Litchfield

A sore foot and then a bad respiratory infection has put walking on the back shelf for the past couple of weeks. Yesterday I thought I was in good enough shape to try the walk in Litchfield MN. I started Google Maps after stopping at a nearby gas station and from that location Google Maps surely took me on a journey, winding on county roads through Hennepin County. Sometimes one shouldn't believe Google Maps! On the other hand I've driven west so many times this summer it was nice to have a change of scene.

Litchfield started out being called Ness, a connection to Scandinavian immigrants who came here. It was re-named Litchfield to honor three brothers who were prominent in bringing the railroad to Litchfield. Now in the 21st century we may forget how important a railroad connection was -- it was truly the mark of whether one's town would live and prosper or would wither and die.

Litchfield is located in Meeker County. Meeker County is named for Bradley Meeker, who was an associate justice on the Minnesota Supreme Court from 1849 - 1853.

The walk started from a Casey's gas station and convenience store. This chain hosts many of the walks in Minnesota. I've said it before, but I'll say it again. I'm always surprised when I walk into a place like this and ask for the "walk box" and the person at the counter knows exactly what I want. Looking at the registration pages, I found I was walker 42 for this route.

I turned right out the store and then turned right again going to Swift Avenue where I simply walked straight then for 12 blocks. I love this kind of route -- one doesn't have to think about turning here and there and trying to figure out exactly what the person who designed the route really means by statements such as "make a slight right" or "turn on 4th Street (no sign)."

The area had homes that appeared to be built in the mid-20th century.

I was glad that I was doing this part first, for while the route was easy, it wasn't very interesting.

I did find a water tower.

That makes #5 for this walking season, and I think I will find a few more before the walking season really shuts down on October 31. 

Then I saw a huge factory in front of me.

Closer I found a small park area across the street with the logo and flags.

Later at home I searched and searched for E9a -- what I thought the logo said. Only after extensive searching did I find these letters are to be FDA for the First District Association. This improbable name is for a dairy association in this area of Minnesota. This plant makes cheese and also uses the milk for whey and lactose products, but doesn't sell any fresh milk. While here I saw two big tanker trucks leaving the factory and then later in the afternoon I saw other tanker trucks arriving into the town.

Further down I laughed at this wooden figure in someone's garden.

I couldn't decide for sure if this related to the golf course that was across the street.

Soon I came to the end of the street and turned left walking by a picturesque pond. Having spent all summer really in Poland it still startles me that summer is over and I came back back to autumn in Minnesota.

The route directed me to start walking towards Lake Ripley. But before the map said to enter a garden through by the green poles. What a lovely surprise -- the Anderson Garden.

It was a a lovely place to sit and rest for a bit.

Then I wandered down to the Lake Ripley Beach Deck, as this was a checkpoint for this walk.

This lake got its name from an unusual circumstance. It is named for Frederick Ripley who froze to death by this lake during the winter of 1855-56.

Now the route went back by the gardens and up Sibley Avenue, which is also Highway 22. The first puzzling and interesting thing I found was Rosemary Hall.

It was built by Dorothy Kopplin. Wikipedia tells me that Kopplin was Minnesota Mother of the Year in 1949 and also author of a book, Something to Live By. Interested readers can find more about this book by searching the internet. Kopplin built Rosemary Hall to "provide housing for nursing students and professional women." There was nothing about the residence to tell me if it is currently in use. Rosemary was Kopplin's daughter who died at 6 years from leukemia. Anybody who knows more about this place -- please comment.

Soon I saw the county hospital.

Then I reached the corner of Highway 22 and Highway 12 and recognized something I had seen on my drive  into the town.

Then I walked through the business district which is regarded as a historic site.

On the other side of the street was a very traditional movie theater, but showing right up to date films.

The route directed me to the city park and the GAR building. This building is also listed on the National Historic Register.

GAR stands for the Grand Army of the Republic. This was a group of veterans from the American Civil War which banded together to continue friendship, honor fallen comrades, and provide support to widows of fallen comrades.

Nearby was the Trinity Episcopal Church, also listed on the historic register.

Really enjoyed this walk.

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