Travels with Children

The adventures I embark upon with my four young children.

Archive for Harkin Store

Still no mail for us at the Harkin Store

  • 8 miles northwest of New Ulm, MN, on County Road 21. 
  • 507-354-8666 or 507-934-2160. 
  • http://www.mnhs.org/places/sites/hs/
  • Stroller accessibility via handicapped parking and entrance, but better to leave the stroller behind.

Around this time every year, the kids ask to go to the Harkin Store to see if there’s any mail for us.  That’s because each time we tour the historic store, the guide says, “There’s nothing here for you, but check back next time.”  They’ve taken his words to heart.

Each time we visit, though, they learn something new.  This time, they all wrote their names on the slate board (well, the 2-year-old told us her name and made some scribbles).  They all tried on hats so they could do their chores; the fun of coffee grinding was saved until after they’d churned the butter, done the ironing, and carded the wool. 

After a quick game of checkers, we headed outside for a special treat–a taste of homemade ice cream.  The Harkin Store has special programs on Sundays throughout the summer, and this was 4-H day and the dairy month celebration.

The staff at the Harkin Store work really well with kids to teach them about life in the 1870’s in language kids understand.  It’s interesting to take a step back in time and think about a time when all the goods people needed to buy could be found in a single small store.

Read about our previous visit to the Harkin Store.

Kids putting on hats at Harkin Store

At the Harkin Store

Inside Harkin Store

Slates at Harkin Store

Harkin Store

Harkin Store

Harkin Store

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.