A Guided Tour To Some Of MY Town’s Most Delightful Eyesores

Hello, and welcome to “historic” Hastings.  My name is Greg and I’ll be your guide as we ride our bikes to some of the city’s most outstanding examples of abandoned and decrepit structures.  The tour will take approximately 90 minutes, so hopefully you have a comfortable saddle and appropriate clothing.  Rain is in the forecast.  I’ve got my rain gear, do you?

I am confident you will get to see all the rust and deterioration and ugliness you were hoping for when you signed up for my tour.  If not, there will be no refunds.  Are there any questions before we get started?  No?  Okay then, let’s start pedaling.

Our first stop will be a half-mile away.  Try to keep up with me, please.  Things will go much more smoothly if we all stay together, and I will be less likely to lose my temper.  Parents, keep an eye on your kids, especially when we cross the very busy Highway 55.  Thank you.

 

The Historic Thorwood Inn, on 4th and Pine, is quite an impressive building. At least it USED to be.

 

Built in 1880, The Thorwood Inn began its life as one of MY Town’s grandest mansions.  I believe it was owned by a lumber baron, but I probably should have confirmed that before I made such a statement.  Too late for that now.  (By the way, lumber barons served an important purpose by running companies that chopped down thousands of view-blockers.)

I’m sure a lot of other people owned the mansion over the next 100 years.  I don’t know who they were, nor do I care, but I DO know it was turned into a bed & breakfast about 30 years ago.  The Thorwood B&B was a popular destination for quite a few years, but then the owners turned the units into condominiums.  When the condos didn’t sell so well, a fire started.  (No connection implied.)  Even though the fire occurred six months ago, the once-majestic mansion is still standing there–too “historic” to tear down–a burned-out shell of its former greatness.

Next, we’ll cruise past the hospital and join the bike path down to the Mississippi River, where something even MORE useless is still sitting in a big, grassy field.

 

Can you guess what this is?

 

No guesses? Well, it’s the only section of the old Highway 61 bridge still in existence.

 

When the Minnesota Department of Transportation tore down that bridge about six years ago, they barged all the scraps upriver to this staging area.  I don’t know what happened to the rest of the scraps, but for some reason they left this huge chunk of rusty, blue-gray steel for our viewing pleasure.  Hey, don’t laugh.  It’s a beautiful piece of Hastings “history.”

If you’re done admiring the remains of the bridge, I think we should continue on to the downtown area.  One of MY Town’s most attractive eyesores dominates the landscape there.

 

The abandoned site of H.D. Hudson Manufacturing.

 

Hudson Manufacturing was an important employer in the City of Hastings for many years.  Then the company left with not so much as a “thank you” or a “goodbye.”  The factory just sat there doing nothing for the next ten years before the city took over the property and sold it to a developer for $1.00 based on the developer’s promised that it would be turned into a lively mix of residential and retail space–stuff that would revitalize the dying downtown area.  Two years later, nothing has happened.  It still sits there, just to the right of the new Highway 61 bridge as you enter MY Town from the north.  Nothing says “Welcome To Hastings” like an abandoned factory with broken or boarded windows, crumbling brick, rusty air vents, peeling paint, security fencing, and a Long Haul Trucker parked out front.

Now we’ll ride on to the railroad yard on the east side of downtown, just long enough to see some rusted barrels, unidentified parts, and railroad tracks.

 

 

Did I just hear somebody say they were tired?  I’m sorry, but we have quite a way to go yet.  I wasted too much time at the Hudson Mfg. site, so I’m going to pick up the pace a bit.  Please try to keep up as we ride uphill, away from the Mississippi River.

We are now arriving to another “historic” ruin.  At this point I suggest you dismount and walk your bikes down this short, but steep hiking trail.  As for me, I’ll keep riding.

 

This is what’s left of an old flour mill that was built in the 1850’s and then burned down in 1894. Arson was suspected. Again, for the preservation of “history,” the remains were left standing. MY Town even dedicated a park to the area surrounding the old mill. Despite what appears to be a recent paint job, I highly doubt it will be pressed back into service.

 

It’s only a short ride up the Vermillion River to the site of a newer flour mill.  Follow me as I race up this single track.

 

Note the rusty rotors and other contraptions. The river water used to turn the rotor to grind wheat into flour. Now modern machinery does that work. The rusty rotors are a monument to “historic” days gone by. They, too, will never be pressed back into service.

 

Come along as we ride a few more miles to a farm site located outside the city limits.  There won’t be any stops between here and there so take a drink from your water bottles and pedal your asses off because we’re behind schedule.  (I apologize to the kids for saying “asses.”)

Okay folks, we’ve arrived, but we’ll have to wait a few more minutes to give the kids and the slower riders a chance to catch up.  While we’re waiting, I’ll just mention that I discovered this place a couple of months ago.  I was fascinated, but I was afraid to ride onto private property in order to get a closer look.  I feel a little bolder now that I’m guiding a larger group.  Being a faster rider than most of you, I now believe I’m more likely to escape when the farmer comes running out with his shotgun.

 

At first sight, this appears to be a two-for-one proposition. A deteriorated barn AND some worthless farm machinery.

 

Upon closer inspection, the barn isn’t so bad. But the ancient tractor with only one rear wheel isn’t likely to ever be used again. And the other junk, which I don’t have enough agricultural knowledge to identify, clearly has no purpose for its continued existence.

 

Thank you very much for joining my tour.  I hope you’ve learned something.  I hope you’ve enjoyed the ride.  I hope you’ve left a generous tip in my tip jar.  I’ll lead you back to the outskirts of MY Town, but then you are on your own.

 

Hi. My name is Greg and I ride my bike a lot. That is to say, I ride my bike almost every day. I go on long rides and short rides. Sunny rides, cloudy rides, and rainy rides. I like commuting, errand-running, day-tripping, overnighting, and touring on my bike. I ride on city streets, highways, gravel, single track, and snow with equal enthusiasm. Sometimes I ride fast and sometimes I ride slow. I try to keep my feet on the pedals at stop lights and I do not dismount when I hop up on a curb. I have a roadie bike, a mountain bike and a touring bike. I try to accept any challenge a bike ride can throw at me without complaint. But I don't like bugs.

12 response to "A Guided Tour To Some Of MY Town’s Most Delightful Eyesores"

  1. By: Seasidejanet Posted: July 4, 2018

    Thanks for waiting for me to catch up😅 fun tour. Gave me some ideas for a tour of my own this month.

    • By: gregblood Posted: July 4, 2018

      I’ll always wait for you to catch up, Rockin’ Girl, but really I’m not all that fast.

      I just remembered that you are a REAL docent. I hope my tour-guide parody wasn’t too offensive.

  2. By: Seasidejanet Posted: July 4, 2018

    PS …..I just noticed the date says July 4th. Am I lost in some twilight zone episode ?!

    • By: Bill Stone Posted: July 4, 2018

      Janet, the server’s timezone setting is configured to UTC+0, which basically means Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). Therefore, everyone’s posts use the date and time of London, no matter where the user is physically located.

  3. By: Rich-Illinois Posted: July 4, 2018

    Great tour and narrative — just the kind of stuff I like to hear about and see.
    The Thorwood Inn is very similar to a ‘mansion’ here that suffered the same fate, but was never a B&B or converted to condos, although that may have been the plan. Arson is suspected here in its demise.
    Its on the list of places to photograph WITH bicycle –> memory is a wonderful thing, I wish I had one.
    Interesting, entertaining, and enlightening as always! Thanks!!

  4. By: Bill Stone Posted: July 4, 2018

    Thanks for the tour, Greg. The Ogre really enjoyed the single track, and I feel like I definitely got my money’s worth. 😉

    • By: gregblood Posted: July 4, 2018

      And thank YOU for the topic. It made my July Challenge pretty easy.

      Hey, wait a minute! You say you got your money’s worth, but I don’t remember you submitting your payment. And I’m absolutely positive that you put nothing in my tip jar.

  5. By: The Navigator Posted: July 4, 2018

    Thanks for making me laugh, Greg – though I think you may have been a bit harsh at times with the group. Some interesting sights for sure – and a different side to YOUR town than we’ve seen before.

    • By: gregblood Posted: July 4, 2018

      Yeah, I really was kind of a jerk, wasn’t I? All of my guests were very nice too. I guess there’s something about riding with others that brings out the worst in me. Normally I’m a pretty nice guy . . . I think.

  6. By: Suzanne Posted: July 4, 2018

    Those ugly things sure make for good pictures! But I think you missed your calling as a tour guide. Btw some very well paid photographers offer classes where they take their participants to the dumps or used car lots.

    • By: gregblood Posted: July 4, 2018

      Yes, I think I’m a better tour guide than photographer–but that isn’t saying much.

Leave a Reply