We’re backroads people. If we have to get there quick, sure, we’ll use the Interstate, but if time isn’t important, or if we want to avoid going through towns, we head for the county roads and find a scenic route. Even better, sometimes we find something that’s really off the beaten path that’s a very pleasant surprise.
This was the case on a recent trip. We were only an hour and a half from home, but deviated from our usual route. (Actually, we don’t have many “usual” routes because I love to see as many different things as I can.) Hubby had a certain county road in mind, so we headed for it.
Along the way, though, I spotted a sign that intrigued me. It said “Capitol City” and pointed us down another road. “Capitol City?” I thought? Out in the middle of rural Minnesota? We followed the sign, which led us six or seven miles and around a few more corners, ending up on a spot on a gravel road that overlooks two lakes.
There we found it, a piece of Minnesota history I’d never heard of. It wasn’t a city, or even any buildings, this Capitol City. Instead, we found a series of signs that detailed a capitol city that almost was.
St. Paul was originally set up to be the temporary capitol of Minnesota, so Governor Henry Hastings Sibley sent out a party of searchers to find an ideal location. They recommended this site in Kandiyohi County. It went through some political twists and turns, and at one point was actually slated to become the new capitol, but the order was repealed by the next governor.
The plats had been laid out, with the capitol atop the hill and a town on the shores of the nearby lakes. It led me to wonder how different our state would be with the capitol in Capitol City instead of St. Paul. How would it have affected rural development? How would the Twin Cities be different? One can only wonder, because the state capitol stayed in St. Paul, and all that remains of Capitol City are the markers and documents that describe what it was to be.