Stroll through history at New Ulm’s Harkin Store

New Ulm
The Harkin Store looks as it did in the late 1800s when it was the hub of area business.

 

There’s a place outside New Ulm where you can travel back in time. Back to the 1870s, to be specific. The Harkin Store once served as THE place to shop in West Newton, along the banks of the Minnesota Rivers. Times were good. Riverboats moving up and down the river kept the store in business.

New Ulm
The Harkin Store was where residents would go for supplies and their mail.

Then, the railroad came to town. Planners routed the railroad away from West Newton. With trains taking over transporting cargo and people, the riverboat business faded. Then, the area suffered a grasshopper infection. Farmers were too poor to conduct business with the Harkin Store. Like relics of yesteryear, the store’s owners were force to close their doors once the post office moved from the building and started delivering rural mail.

New Ulm
The store served as the post office until the agency started rural delivery in the early 1900s.

After having been in business from 1867 until 1901, what should happen to the old Harkin Store?

One of the Harkins’ granddaughters reopened the store as a museum. For a while, much of the store’s display included items that were on the shelves when the store closed in 1901. Today, some items, such as old bottles, are original to the store, but many items are representative of the period. The Minnesota Historical Society operates the museum now.

New Ulm
Some items in the store were actually part of the store. Others are appropriate to the era.

The Harkin Store museum has a variety of hours. Currently, it is open weekends through Oct. 15. Then, when it reopens for the 2018 summer season, it will be open Tuesday-Sunday between Memorial Day and Labor Day. It will be open both holidays.

For more information on the Harkin Store, please visit www.mnhs.org or www.newulm.com.