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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.