Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Driving a Walk

Yes, you read the title correctly. Right now I'm having trouble with walking and pain in my back. I'm back to physical therapy and the physical therapist thinks the problem may be damage to the iliotibial band, an anatomical feature, that runs along the side of one's upper leg from the hip bone to the knee joint. This creates a confounding problem, for one thinks there is a problem with the hip joint when in fact the difficulty is coming from another part of one's body.

I decided I could help the Volksmarching movement by double checking some of the route maps. Returning from Lincoln, NE, I double-checked the walks in Luverne and Worthington, MN. Madelia, Minnesota was on my way home too, but the day was getting too short to stop there as well. This needed to be done soon, so when Sunday morning dawned with good weather my older daughter and I took off for a day trip.

We left around 10:00 and got to St. Peter, Minnesota around lunch time where we stopped for lunch. Then it was only about 25 miles to drive to Madelia.

Madelia is located in Watonwan County. Watonwan County was established in 1860 on the shore of the Watonwan River. It is believed the name was spelled wrong as it came from Dakota language to English. In Dakota Watanwan -- note an a after the T rather than an o. The Dakota word, Watanwon, means where fish bait abounds.

Madelia is actually just a bit older than the county. It was platted in 1857 and finally incorporated as a city in 1872. It is named after Madeline, the daughter of General Hartshorn, who was was one of the early settlers in Madelia.

I did find one mistake in the route map while yet in St. Peter. While waiting for lunch I tried to put the address for the start of the walk into Google Maps on my phone. Google Maps was confused. So I looked up the address for the specific motel where this walk begins and found it is located on Hayes Avenue NE, not NW. This little mistake was what was messing up Google Maps.

Once in Madelia we started driving the route and the first thing that took my eye was this house which had quite unusual decorations about the windows.

Not all homes in Madelia were quite this rustic.

There were many homes in Madelia like the one above. These were built in the early 20th century. Many other in the town were built as single story ramblers after World War II, when there was a big housing boom as all the soldiers came home from the war and started families.

Soon the walk route took us to a historic site  -- the Truss Bridge. The informative sign by this old bridge says that before bridges were built Madelia was the site of three fords across the Watonwan River. A wooden bridge was in place at one site by 1875, but because it was wood, it didn't last very long in Minnesota weather. The Truss Bridge replaced it in 1908. The type of construction for the bridge shown below in the photo is also called span bridge. This old bridge is preserved because it is one of the very few now to survive in Minnesota.

Below is a close up of what I believe are the "spans."

Not only can one no longer drive over this bridge, one can not walk over it either.

The draft of the route map had a question about whether there were public restrooms available at the Historical Center. I stopped in the parking lot for the Historical Center and found it to be open on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday so we couldn't visit it. Straight ahead of me while parked was the old building shown below.
TWP is an abbreviation for township. For my Polish friends who read this -- you use the word, gmina.

Our drive then took us back up to Main Street in Madelia. One reason to check this route map was to determine if a serious fire in Madelia would affect the walk route. This fire occurred about three months ago.

I found the fire site was now contained behind a fence.

Madelia had adopted a slogan for the Main Street rebuild.

I even saw the Madelia Strong sign posted in other nearby neighboring towns.

Across the street from the fire site is another historical site, the Flanders Building

Originally Madelia was the county seat of Watonwan County. The Flanders Building was built to be the first courthouse. Court met on the second floor -- what would be called the 1st floor by European count. Various county offices occupied the ground floor, what is called the 1st floor in the United States.

I had noticed a mural painted on the side of a building so we backtracked there.

This mural is about the James-Younger gang. The men associated with this gang had fought on the Confederate side during the Civil War. They were based in Missouri and following the Civil War took to robbing banks.

One day they showed up in Northfield, Minnesota. There they met people in the town who fought back. Two members of the gang died in Northfield and the rest took off on their horses. However, they chose the first day of hunting season in Minnesota to rob this bank and then try to escape. Many men were out in the countryside with guns for the hunting season.  A farm boy noticed suspicious people nearby and went to the sheriff in Madelia. This means the gang would have traveled about 75 miles. There was a shoot out between the men of Madelia and the gang.

Madelia men    
The Younger brothers were wounded, dead, or captured.

That was really the end of the James-Younger Gang. I always knew about Jesse James Day in Northfield, but never knew that most of the gang was captured in Madelia.

In our drive around town we noticed two churches with interesting architecture.

The steeple on this church caught my eye as did the interesting way to ring the bell.

Turning the corner we noticed another church lit in an interesting way by the early spring light.

This is a Presbyterian church.

Our last stop in Madelia was at the grocery store where we picked up cold bottles of water. From there we made our way back to St. Paul.

This story shows why I like the walks. One finds such interesting things when walking. Hope we can find a way to help my walking problem in the next couple of months.

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