Monday, February 06, 2006
I wonder what stories this house has to tell.
I pass by this abandoned house just about every day. It sits there, its empty windows gazing into the sunrise, brush growing all around. I can't tell how many years it has been empty, but it looks like it was a nice, cozy house in its day.
The land around here was logged off around 1880-1900, then the cleared land was sold off mainly to immigrant farmers. The 1915 plat map, from a local history book, shows that this land was owned by a Nielsen; Scandinavian, most likely Danish, as the township of Partridge was settled by Danes. The town of Askov holds its Danish tradition proudly, even in this age of homogeneity. A note for you Prairie Home Companion fans: Garrison Keillor's brother resides in the area.
Askov used to pride itself in being the "rutabaga capital" of the state, or maybe even the nation. If you like rutabagas, they were grown here. There was a major rutabaga processing plant, right by the tracks in Askov. They still hold a Rutabaga Festival every year, although probably very few rutabagas are still grown in scattered family gardens. I don't think rutabagas are on the menu at the school or local restaurants.
The post-war policies of the USDA, coupled with the relatively low yield of the land when farmed by "modern" practices, spelled the demise of many family farms in the area. There is still a dairy farm here and there, or a beef operation, or scattered cornfield, but most of the agricultural land is in hay or pasture. Much of the land is tax forfeited, managed for timber harvest by the county, who is not really qualified to know how to do such things. Private land is generally owned by people from the cities, who come up to their cabins for deer season in November.
For some reason, this little house still stands, a remembrance of a time of hope and growth in this area.
UPDATE, 2/07: The house is gone. It was torn down last summer when developers bought the land and subdivided it into ten or twenty acre hunting cabin plots. I miss it.