Take a hayride through history

Take a hayride through history
Program coordinator Janet Timmerman of Oronoco, left, and volunteer Julie Murray of Rochester will provide History Hayride tours at the History Center in Rochester this summer.

Seeing everything — caves, barns, cabin, schoolhouse — on the grounds of the History Center of Olmsted County would require a hike of several hours.

Starting next week, though, there's another option. That's when the history center will begin offering one-hour guided tours of the grounds. Visitors will ride in a wagon pulled by an antique tractor.

"We're going to go over the whole campus," said Janet Timmerman, program coordinator at the history center. "Most times, people go through the museum, and maybe the school house and Dee Cabin."

There is, however, so much more on the expansive grounds, including the 1850s George Stoppel Farmstead. Tour guides will use the Stoppel farm as an example when talking about immigration to the area, Timmerman said.

"The whole Stoppel family story is really a part of the growth of Rochester," she said.


The tour will include the baseball field, where the Rochester Roosters play baseball by 19th century rules. At the Ralph Stoppel farm, visitors will see how mechanization changed farming.

And, there will be some surprises.

"People probably don't know we have three caves on the property," Timmerman said. "The first winter the Stoppel family lived here, they lived in a small cave. A baby was born in one of the caves, making 11 people living there."

Not all survived childhood. "There are children buried on the property, but we don't know where," Timmerman said. "They died during a diphtheria outbreak."

There are also more pleasant thoughts to enjoy while on the tour.

"We're going to look at the crops and talk about the bluebirds," Timmerman said. "We're going to have a great time all summer long."


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