As part of our conference countdown, I’m doing a series of postings of possible places you might want to add to your Wilder conference trip. Some will be Laura related, others are just kind of neat tourist spots. Enjoy!
Owatanna, Minnesota is a town on the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Highway – Highway 14 in southeastern Minnesota. We first stayed in Owatanna almost by accident as we were trying to break a hard day’s driving into two parts. We were delightfully surprised at all that was going on in this small town on the crossroads of Highway 14 and I-35. Our favorite memory was trying to track down the mystic spring of good health that was supposed to be the reason the town was founded. We finally tracked down the park and discovered a continuous feed water fountain. We all took a drink and said we definitely felt better for having tracked down the magic spring. According to the story, Chief Wabena heard of the curing waters called minnewaucan. He moved the tribe to the site of the spring for the sake of his daughter, Princess Owatonna she drank from the springs daily and she recovered her health. In the form of a statue, she still stands in Mineral Springs Park today.
Those of you who watched along in 2012 will remember that I recorded my visit on the trip up to Mankato. Find that particular video and accompanying information.
For a town of this size, there is a lot to see and do.
- There is a Louis Sullivan (an architectural genius and mentor to Frank Lloyd Wright) designed bank, now a Wells Fargo Bank, at 101 North Cedar.
- There is a small, but nice historic village depicting turn of the century life called the Village of Yesteryear.
- Although sadly the museum that once with them is now closed, the incredible Three Thunderbird Jets statue (made of three decommissioned military aircraft frozen in the midst of a complicated aerial maneuver) is now on display in front of the airport. It’s a definite must stop for any flying buff and anyone would be impressed to see this statue in full size glory.
- Plus, it’s the home of a Cabela’s hunting and fishing store. If you’ve never been to a Cabela’s, you owe it to yourself to stop, just to see the incredible taxidermy displays. These are museum quality and then some. While most museum displays show animals in a fairly static position, Cabela’s displays bring to life an action photo. Be sure to check out the photo gallery and video on their website to see what I mean.
- The town website lists more visitor information on these stops and more.
Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation.Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. She is currently President of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy and Research Association. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.