Monday, July 10, 2017

Minnesota Historical Sites ~ Forestville

Erica Vetsch here:

This year, on the 10th of each month, I've been blogging about the wonderful sites run by the Minnesota Historical Society. Everything from the largest single family residence in the state - The James J. Hill house - to the newly refurbished State Capitol

This month, I'd love to share with you one of my favorite sites, Historic Forestville. Forestville is one of the hidden gems of Minnesota. I make sure I stop by this site at least once a year, and I always learn something new.

My kids playing checkers out in front of the Meighen Store.
The town of Forestville was settled in the mid 1850's, when Minnesota opened to settlement. By the end of the decade, the town boasted a grist mill, a cabinet shop, a school, two sawmills, two hotels, and the Meighen Store.

But in 1868, the railroad bypassed Forestville, laying track through the town of Preston, about ten miles away. As a result, folks began leaving Forestville. By the 1890's, the only business left open in Forestville was the Meighen Store, and Thomas Meighen owned the entire town and surrounding land. He operated the farm for many years, keeping the store open to serve his workers.

In 1910, Thomas closed the store's doors forever, locking up the inventory inside and moving to Preston for good.

And so the store sat, a time capsule of life in small-town America. Eventually, the Minnesota Legislature formed Forestville State Park in order to preserve the store and the remaining structures. In the 1970's, the site was turned over to the Minnesota State Historical Society, who began the lengthy task of restoring the buildings, inventorying the contents of the store, and preparing the site to be a living history museum.

Today you can engage with docents posing as Meighen staff and friends, tour the store, work in the heirloom gardens, visit the house and cook in Mrs. Meighen's kitchen, feed the chickens, and tour the largest barn in SE Minnesota.

Throughout the summer, there are many events hosted at Forestville. Cider making, quilting bees, bread making, butter churning, old time baseball, and more.

The most expensive item in the store in 1899, a sewing machine.

A Hoosier cabinet in the kitchen of the Meighen house.

Feeding the chickens.

When visiting, you will need to stop in and get a park permit, either a day pass or a yearly pass. After that, cross the bridge and enter the year 1899, explore the treasures of a store preserved for almost a century. It's a trip back in time sure to thrill the heart of any history enthusiast.

You can learn more about Forestville, the history, the state park, and the museum site, by following this link:


  1. I would have loved to be the first person to unlock that store!!! It's amazing that the inventory was still there!!!

  2. Thank you for your great post! And what a wonderful store!!!

  3. This sounds like such a delightful place. Thanks for letting us know about it!

  4. Another great place to visit. It's always nice to step back into history.

  5. This would be a wonderful place to visit. Thank you for sharing!