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Category: Fergus Falls Area

Phelps Mill

Phelps Mill

This is Phelps Mill, in Ottertail County, about fourteen miles northeast of Fergus Falls, Minnesota. It was originally known as Maine Roller Mills.

Phelps Mill, Minnesota

This mill began operations in 1889 and prospered as a flour mill in the age of hyrdopower that predated steam, gas, and electric mills. The plaque on-site says it closed for good in 1939. The sign shown below says 1931.

Ottertail County bought the site in 1965, and ten years later it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Phelps Mill, Minnesota

We drove up to the mill one weekend afternoon and I was surprised to see the mill standing with the door wide open, welcoming travelers who were passing through. There is also a really nice little riverside park here, perfect for a picnic.

Phelps Mill, Minnesota

 

This place has it’s own arts and crafts festival every year in July.

Phelps Mill, Minnesota

The restoration and development referenced in the sign above is largely credited to a campaign by local activist Geneva Tweten, referenced on the plaque below.

Phelps Mill, Minnesota

Phelps Mill, Minnesota

The mill is open to the public and pretty well-trafficked on a beautiful day like this. We saw twenty or more vehicles come through while we were there, which is pretty impressive considering the remoteness of the site. I also discovered my cellphone was reception was less-than-total.

Phelps Mill, Minnesota

Phelps Mill, Minnesota

The fall colors were just starting to show.

Phelps Mill, Minnesota

Phelps Mill, Minnesota

The Ottertail River is gorgeous from above.

Phelps Mill, Minnesota

This window was covered in flies, and for just a moment I had an Amityville flashback.

Phelps Mill, Minnesota

Phelps Mill, Minnesota

Phelps Mill, Minnesota

Phelps Mill, Minnesota

Photos by Troy Larson, copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC

Wee Town Outlaw Speedway

Wee Town Outlaw Speedway

This is what remains of Wee Town Outlaw Speedway (also known as Lake Region Speedway and West Central Speedway) northeast of Fergus Falls.  This was once a very cool place to watch stock cars and outlaws.  Fergus Falls Journal wrote an interesting story about this place back in 2007.

Originally opened in 1962, the speedway went through multiple owners and several periods of inactivity over the years.  In 1986, high water began to become a problem at the speedway, and the track was closed from 1987 to 1989.  It reopened in 1990 before closing down for good in 1993.  What you see below is how it looks today, nineteen years after it shut down.  The pits and a good portion of the track are completely flooded.

For an interesting contrast, I actually found a long-form video which features racing at the Weetown Outlaw Speedway when it reopened in 1990.  The first part of this video is recorded at the Red River Valley Speedway in West Fargo.  Jump to the 1:35:00 mark (that’s one hour, thirty five minutes) to see racing action at the Wee Town Outlaw Speedway from 1990.

The former water truck sits in about three feet of water on the track infield.

See Also: I94 Speedway

Photos by Troy, copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC

Fergus Falls State Hospital: Part Two

Fergus Falls State Hospital: Part Two

Neal Miller of Dilworth, MN sent in these beautiful photos of the Fergus Falls Regional Treatment Center, formerly Fergus Falls State Hospital — an asylum.  Neal’s comments accompany some of the photos below.

This is part two.  See part one.

MPR has a nice article on the FFRTC here.

…leading up to the private rooms of the resident doctor and his family

Even now, the doctor’s rooms have a stately air

Doorways meant to open onto Italian balconies, which were never completed

Pleasant room for an autumn evening

One of the last groundskeepers to work at the old center still volunteers her time to keep things tidy

Photos and captions by Neal Miller of Dilworth, MN.

Fergus Falls State Hospital: Part One

Fergus Falls State Hospital: Part One

Neal Miller of Dilworth, MN sent in these beautiful photos of the Fergus Falls Regional Treatment Center, formerly Fergus Falls State Hospital — an asylum.  Neal’s comments accompany some of the photos below.

After sliding toward destruction for years, a developer has been found and this place will be renovated. Update: as of October 2014, the future of the Kirkbride is again in question.

MPR has a nice article on the FFRTC here.

Built at the turn of the last century, the Fergus Falls Insane Asylum, later given the more politically correct name “Fergus Falls Regional Treatment Center”, is one of the last surviving “Kirkbride Asylums”

Dr. Thomas Story Kirkbride’s buildings were grand Victorian monoliths, usually dominating the surrounding countryside from some prominent hilltop.

An imposing sight even now, it must have seemed even more forbidding to those who came here against their will

More on Kirkbride buildings can be found here.

Kirkbride believed that fresh air and sunshine were the best treatments for mental illness, and thus no patient was denied a room with a window…

This, however, did have its drawbacks, as at least one patient is known to have leaped to his death from the upper floor of this ward.

Photos and captions by Neal Miller of Dilworth, MN.  Part two in this series is here.