Exploration: Abandoned Houses in Small Towns

Abandoned Minnesota Minnexplore

The Abandoned Bergman Homestead, First Visit: My best friend and I are both eighteen and young for our age. Exploring an abandoned house deep in the wilds of Milaca feels like an adventure. Getting there actually IS an adventure, accomplished more by miracle than method.

The homestead is right off a county road. Anyone who drives past can see our car sitting in front of the old house, but we sneak around on tiptoe anyway, trying to feel like we’re doing something illicit. It works; the goosebumps rise with every careful step.

Abandoned Minnesota Minnexplore

There are at least five deserted buildings on the property, and we’re determined to survey them all, as explorers should. The weight of our responsibility is increased by our aspirations. We’re both planning to be famous writers when we grow up, so we’re obligated to respond to the detritus we find in a literary way.

Abandoned Minnesota Minnexplore

On discovering an old mattress: “I wonder who slept on this mattress. I wonder how many lives began and ended on it.” Pause, smothered giggle. “I’ll bet people had SEX on this mattress.”

On finding a cracked, pink cup by the old well: “Can you imagine how difficult their lives must have been? No plumbing, no indoor heating. We don’t spend enough time thinking about how lucky we are to have modern amenities.”

On standing back and surveying the whole decaying place: “There’s a story here somewhere. I can smell it. I can feel the ghosts of the deceased asking to be heard.”

“I wonder if we’ll forget this place,” I comment with anticipatory nostalgia. “When we’re famous writers living in our connected penthouses in New York.”

“No,” she says firmly, “we’ll never forget this place.”

Abandoned Minnesota Minnexplore

Before we leave, she pauses to pee behind a rotting hay bale. I keep watch by the road. This is probably the most transgressive thing we’ve done all day, and I get the nervous giggles so badly that I have to go too. Shyer than her, I wade deep into a hayfield behind the house and discover the joy of peeing in a sweet sea of alfalfa while bees buzz around your legs and stray wildflowers sway in the wind.

“She’s right,” I think as I zip up my pants. I’ll never forget this place.

Abandoned Minnesota Minnexplore

Here’s more on local exploration:
Grow: Talking Change with Gabe Sehr, Organic Farmer
Exploration: An Abandoned Farmstead with a Fantastic Dairy Barn
Exploration: Stuff I’ve Done/Seen in the Twin Cities Recently
Exploration: Checking Out a Modern Abandoned Building

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