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Harkin Store
66250 County Road 21
New Ulm, MN 56073

Hours

Memorial Day Weekend - Labor Day:
Tue-Sun 10 am-5 pm
 
Open Memorial Day, July 4 and Labor Day, 10 am-5 pm
 
May, September and first three weekends in October:
Sat-Sun 10 am-5 pm
 
Call for group tours.

Admission

  • $5 adults
  • $3 seniors, college students and children ages 6-17
  • Free for children age 5 and under and MNHS members.

Contact

507-354-8666 or 507-934-2160

2014 Oct 20

53°
Clear | Wind Calm
updated: 10:41 wunderground.com
 

History

In the 1870s, the Harkin Store had a big role to fill. The rural general store in the Minnesota River Valley was both the economic and social center of the growing community of West Newton. Steamboat trade made the town's future seem bright, but then - as with so many other rural towns - the railroad passed it by.

The store's original owners, Alexander and Janet Harkin, who were born in Scotland, arrived in the Minnesota Territory in 1856 to farm. After several difficult years, the Harkins and their farm began to prosper and Alexander was appointed or elected to a variety of positions including coroner, school board treasurer, justice of the peace and postmaster. In 1867, he opened a combination general store and post office.

Their fortunes changed soon after, however, when in 1873 the railroad bypassed the community and locusts descended on southern Minnesota - and stayed for four years. West Newton and the Harkin Store declined for the next few decades. The store eventually closed in 1901 as river and road traffic dwindled and the post office was replaced by free rural delivery. Its doors were locked and the store and its merchandise remained untouched until the site reopened as a museum in 1938.