By: Pat Casey
The men had spent a long day of travel, starting in St Louis, Missouri and ending in South Bend, Indiana. Now they sat at a late dinner, each with his thoughts. David wondering if somehow this journey could parlay into economic development opportunities for his and the other towns of New Hartford. Bob, hoping he could continue piloting the group safely as he had so expertly done to date. Pat, wondering if he should get the Creme Brule or Cheesecake for dessert.
The day had started with David, having spent the night visiting a schoolmate and his wife, meeting the remaining members of the group as they were readying their ship for the day’s travel. They quickly took flight to avoid the coming rain, and were able to cross near New Hartford, Missouri to make record of the town before continuing north along the Mississippi.
As the terrain on the Wisconsin side of the river was flatter, they landed in La Crosse and found a bridge to cross to Minnesota.
As their guide Tom Tom directed them, they found the first signs for New Hartford, Minnesota and as luck would have it immediately found the center of town and the Town Hall. It being Sunday there would be no one at Town Hall so they continued down the road to see what this New Hartford held for them.
Coming on a main intersection they found a New Hartford Township road and followed it to its end, where they met a wonderful family who provided them with directions to the old general store and garage. Leaving the family to their farm chores, they found what had been the center of town, the store, garage and an old sign indicating the population.
The next stop was to meet Carl Mulderhauser, the Town Commissioner for the about the past 26 years. Carl, a farmer who raises beef cattle, lives in a beautiful little valley with his wife Dot. He and Dot share their valley with eagles, deer, cougar, bear and coyote. Carl provided the travelers with a little history of the town and the government.
Carl shares the leadership of the town with two other individuals and has a staff of one part-time highway worker. Carl provided the group with directions to the home of Vic Johnson who lives on the rim of the valley. Vic is one of the two individuals sharing town leadership and holds the title of Town Supervisor. Vic, a great guy with a big personality talked about the responsibilities of leading a town of 35 square miles and 800 or so people. Their biggest challenge they face is a fire department that has no water source! Leaving Carl and Vic the responsibility of readying a cistern to accept water from a new well. Vic also noted that as farming is their primary industry the population is spread out over about 28 miles of roads which makes maintenance by one worker a challenge. But in the pioneer spirit they all chip in to do what needs to be done. As the day was growing long and there were still miles to travel, the group bid goodbye to Vic and hurried across the bridge to La Crosse to begin their journey east towards home. Stopping at an Inn in South Bend Indiana owned by very accommodating keepers, the Hamptons, the travelers found themselves at the late night restaurant. With the largest New Hartford left to visit, what would tomorrow bring?