Lens on History: Winter on the South Fork

The Zumbro River in downtown Rochester in 1973. Photo by Benny Helgeson.

Hoarfrost is a popular subject of photographers during the winter in Minnesota. A still, foggy winter night followed by a sunny morning create trees that sparkle in silver and white. That was the case 45 years ago along the banks of the Zumbro River.

Standing where Bear Creek and the Zumbro River meet and looking west, one has a vision of Rochester from the not too distant past. Does the skyline look familiar? Can you remember hearing the giant Canadian Geese navigating the river, looking for the warm, open water of Silver Lake? Did you ever try out your new Christmas skates on the frozen river?

Before the Zumbro River became encased in concrete, nature was the architect. What you see today on the south fork will soon disappear, taking Rochester’s past with it, a past that is as fleeting as hoarfrost.

Zumbro River in downtown Rochester.

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