Signs for 12 Minnesota 'ghost towns' are up for auction this weekend

The auction will serve as a fundraiser to help the historical society buy new signs.
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Signs that mark a dozen ghost towns in southern Minnesota are up for auction this weekend.

The Goodhue County Historical Society is auctioning off the signs that mark where former towns once stood after the signs became damaged or faded. The auction will help the historical society pay for new signs. 

The historical society will hold a virtual silent auction for 12 signs that mark 12 ghost towns (see below) from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 10, via Facebook here

Goodhue County is now home to 10 cities and 21 organized townships, but over the years there were dozens more communities that "played an important role" in shaping the region, the historical society says.

Those communities were settled and then abandoned, unable to become or remain a town with a governing body for reasons ranging from being circumvented by the railroad to the introduction of rural free delivery in the late 19th century, which closed many post offices that served as the heart of the community, the historical society's website explains.

To recognize the historical contribution of these former towns, the historical society began installing signs at each of their former (or still existing) post offices in the 1990s, with the historical society noting throughout the years 65 post offices existed in the county.

Here's a list of the ghost towns and this interactive map shows the location of the ghost towns and former post offices, as well as a few details about each place.

According to RiverTowns in 2012, the historical society labeled a former community a ghost town if it at one time had a post office and businesses. 

The ghost towns can be found in every township in the county, some of them nothing more than a dirt road and fields while others still have crumbling buildings or other signs of the former life, the publication said.

The 12 ghost town signs being auctioned off this weekend are:

  • Belle Creek: A ghost town at County 8 Boulevard and 370th Street, Belle Creek Township, Goodhue County. It was a "thriving community" with commercial shops, a post office, school, church, farms and houses, the county says.
  • Poplar Grove: A ghost town at 48500 block of County 11 Boulevard, Pine Island Township, Goodhue County. It was home to one of the first post offices in Goodhue County, dating back to 1855. The post office was originally operated out of Dodson's Hotel on the St. Paul to Dubuque stage route, the county says.
  • Burley: A ghost town at 32000 block of County 1 Boulevard, Featherstone Township, Goodhue County. The community started with a post office on the Red Wing to Cannon Falls stage line. A tavern, houses and a brick schoolhouse "contributed to the short-lived community," The school was one of the first in the country to have free textbooks and an extensive library, the county says.
  • Skyberg: A ghost town on the 5500 block of County 11 Boulevard, Kenyon Township, Goodhue County. The community start as a post office in 1879 and grew because of the Simon Skyberg's general store. It has a blacksmith shot, other stores and a train depot helping the community thrive in the pioneer era. It also had a creamery and grain elevator, the county says.
  • Eggleston: A ghost town at 22000 block of County 18 Boulevard in Welch Township, Goodhue County. It was a community with a post office, train station, general store, creamery and houses the county says.
  • Spring Creek: A ghost town on the 8000 block of 450th Street, Cherry Grove Township, Goodhue County. The post office opened in 1860 and lasted 42 years. It was never a community, just a rural post office in a farmhouse, the county says.
  • Fair Point: A ghost town at Count 1 Boulevard and 515th Street in Cherry Grove Township, Goodhue County. Dating back to 1857, post offices and businesses came and went, with only a cemetery marking where the town once was. It also had a schoolhouse south of the community, the county says.
  • Welch/Eagle Mills: A ghost town at County Road 7 and Welch Trail, Welch Township, Goodhue County. The community formed after a post office opened in 1860. It closed the following year, but another one was added in 1886. The community had a flour mill, houses, small businesses. Eagle Mills changed its name to Welch in 1886, which still exists today, the county says.
  • Featherstone: A ghost town at 31000 block of County 1 Boulevard, Featherstone Township, Goodhue County. The community served the farmhouses with a schoolhouse and township hall, the county says.
  • Hader: A ghost town at the intersection of County 8 Boulevard and Hader Trail, Wanamingo Township. Hader was a stop on the St. Paul to Dubuque stage line and developed into a community with businesses, a post office, school and houses. The pioneer town survived well into the 1900s but eventually became a small rural community, the county says.
  • Lena: A ghost town at 21000 block of Highway 60 Boulevard, Pine Island Township, Goodhue County. Lena was a train station with a depot, grain elevators, a cheese factory and farms. It served as a trading post in Pine Island Township, the county says.
  • Norway: A ghost town at 6000 block of County 30 Boulevard, Holden Township, Goodhue County. Norway was a post office and small trading center.

Bring Me The News has reached out to the Goodhue County Historical Society for more information.

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