Saturday, January 8, 2011

Bechyn, Minnesota

During a visit to Redwood Falls, MN way back in 2006, my better half pointed to a (really) small dot on the map and said "we should go here." We've both always been fascinated by small or old towns, but I would say this was our first successful venture off the beaten path with the sole intention of visiting one. I look back on this later and consider Bechyn to be the town that officially kicked off tons of other journeys -and hundreds of extra miles for us- every time we're on vacation. The closer we got to Bechyn, the more remote it seemed. After driving on mostly unmarked gravel roads for a ways, we finally saw a clue that we were getting closer. This sign near a 4-way intersection might just as well have read "MIDDLE OF NOWHERE." Honestly, neither of us could imagine a town being anywhere out here, where all you could see in every direction was more cornfields. After following the sign, the strangest thing happened to the road; it became paved! We both thought this was hilarious and it was obvious that we'd reached our destination. This town was literally surrounded by tall cornfields on all four sides, making it almost hidden from passersby only a mile away. The town itself was not abandoned in any way. In fact there were people milling about -especially near a big old church labeled St. Mary's. Right away though we spotted some old and abandoned buildings. This 2 story, paint-less structure had every indication of an old general store or some sort of business. Like other buildings, it showed signs of newer renovation by way of two overhead garage doors installed right into it's side. Across the street was another old building with that familiar tall, flat-front of an old business. This building though actually appeared to have been converted into a private residence indicated by curtains and knick-knacks in the windows. We were both amazed that a little tiny town (if you could even call it that) like this could exist out here among miles of cornfields. It was pretty apparent that the church was really the center of town and probably responsible for keeping the town alive. There were people living in the town but it couldn't have been more than about 10. We never did see any sort of population sign so who knows. Only recently I learned from the internet that the town of Bechyn has a rich Czechoslovakian heritage and is named after Bechyne in Czechoslovakia. Every August the town hosts an annual "Czechfest" celebration which brings in a lot of visitors.