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Unconventional vacation location 5 Jan 24

Ever been to Detroit Lakes, MN? This little town in the depths of the Minnesota tundra (prairie in summer) serves as an exemplar of a vacation spot you might not think of. Unexpected things fit vacations well, since (as you often read on this site) the essence of a vacation is change (of schedule, and maybe scenery) from your normal routine.

The attraction I have in mind is a municipal museum, and Detroit Lakes has one.

The museum is not open all the time, but if you are visiting someone in town, they might know the guy who has the key, and you might get in (and get a private guided tour) regardless of the official open hours. Then again, maybe not. These museums seem to start when someone with a penchant for setting things in order finds a storeroom full of obsolete municipal hardware, maybe coupled with a prominent citizen who has an interesting collection. Perhaps something of historical significance happened there. Over time memorabilia accumulates, young soldiers are memorialized, the town centennial comes along. Nostalgia is a powerful emotion.

You never know what you’ll find.

The museum in Detroit lakes has, among other things, a collection of ball-and-chain shackles. You know, the things sometimes used as a metaphor for marriage. They never used them on real prisoners, but they did use them. Back during the depression, transients (hobos) coming into town riding the rails became a bit of a problem.  The town hired a few to wear the shackles and break rock near the train station when the trains came in. New hobos coming in would keep going when they saw the state of their compatriots. Hobo problem solved.

Generic ball and chain. DL didn't have any pictures of them on their web site.

The resorts and fishing in the area are pretty good, too.

Have you ever visited an interesting out-of-the-way museum? We’d like to hear about it.

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