|The picture that stood out to me.|
Of course Henrik was with me, so it was kind of hard to get any real research done. As he sat on my lap bouncing and trying to grab for these pages of history, another nice lady (one I kind of know because her husband was a teacher in the high school while I was there) offered to hold Henrik while I do a little research-another sign of a great, small town. Of course I was delighted by her offer and so was Henrik.
These books were filled with great stuff. One picture stood out to me the most. It was a picture taken in the late 1800s after a large accident just off the Des Moines river train bridge (which still graces us with its presence today). You could see the overwhelming mess it created and an overwhelming crowd of people helping to relieve the disaster. It was rather amazing to see all those people working together. I wondered if all those people would be around today to help. In my heart of hearts, I believe so. I believe in the good of mankind (which has often been a downfall more than optimism in my life). I believe that we are a community begging for a change. I believe this city is ready for an uplifting experience of support, community and sense of pride.
Okay, enough of the sappy stuff, lets move on to the history already. Like I said I didn't get much of a chance to do research, so I started at the beginning--it seemed like the logical thing to do. Windom became a dot on the map in 1871. Its name comes from a "prominent statesman" and US Senator, William Windom. The key to Windom's growth was the railroad. The railroad was making 8 daily stops through Windom, bringing loads of lumber for building and hauling goods from farms to Minneapolis. By August of 1871 a number of stores were ready and open for business. It became the county seat in 1872. Our downtown square was forming around the Cottonwood County Courthouse, which was built in 1904. By 1907 it flourished to approximately 2,000 inhabitants.
After reading some early history, it makes me have a whole new appreciation for that railroad and when I hear the trains' whistles tonight, I'll be thinking about what that railroad did for this town. History is still alive in those tracks. Although we don't use the railway as often as we used to (which I think we should think about changing as well), we still have this great highway that serves the same purpose as the railway once did. It has kept Windom on the map. It is one of the keys to making Windom a destination city and rural hotspot.
This is just a small bite of the history sandwich for Windom, so I'll be going back to the Historical Society tomorrow to pay for my membership and do some more research to find more inspiration. I'm sure Henrik is really excited for another trip--he's hoping there will be another nice lady to play with.
P.S. My kind neighbor a few houses down invited me to morning coffee at McDonalds tomorrow with some of the natives. I can't wait to hear what they have to say about Windom, but unfortunately they are early risers...
**Information taken from The Centennial History of Cottonwood County 1870-1970