Nov 25 2007
8 miles northwest of New Ulm, MN, on County Road 21. 507-354-8666 or 507-934-2160. www.mnhs.org/places/sites/hs/
$2 adults. Under 13 free. Free parking. Stroller accessibility via handicapped parking and entrance, but better to leave the stroller behind.
When the railroad passed by West Newton, Minnesota, the Harkin Store closed with much of its inventory still on the shelves. Stepping into the Harkin Store is stepping back in time to the 1870′s. Costumed guides tell about the store’s history and its importance to West Newton. For toddlers, it’s not so interesting, but once the kids are old enough to try on the pioneer hats, help grind coffee, and check for mail in the post office, it’s a really neat place to visit. If you’re there at a quiet time, you can ask all the questions you want from the knowledgeable guides, and linger to play a game of checkers if you want.
The kids and I went to the Harkin Store twice this summer and learned about half of the store each time. (They were really hoping there would be mail for them the second time, so they were very immersed in their time-travels.) They want to go back again and are disappointed that it is closed during the winter.
One note about visiting with kids: the parking lot is down the hill and across the road from the site, so you’ll want to keep a close eye on them as the road can be busy. The drive to the store is pretty along one of Minnesota’s “Scenic Byways,” and if you want to continue the river drive, you can continue on to Fort Ridgely and the Lower Sioux Agency and make a full day of history along the Minnesota River.
The Harkin Store is a learning experience for young and old alike, a real gem from the past.
I really liked the people who showed us around and we got to get candy sticks.