Tales from a city: Sauk Centre


Located in Sauk Centre, The Palmer Hotel was once voted as the nation’s most haunted hotel. (Photo courtesy of MN Historical Society)

As some people may have already assumed, I am filling in for Harold this week due to him heading north to Lake Of The Woods to try his hand at fishing. Hopefully he comes back with some large tales and even larger fish. Good luck, Harold, and have fun! This week has been a rainy one, but good to see, especially for farmers just starting up their crops. The rain is welcomed. We have now moved into summer, and it feels great! I have been keeping an eye on the Stanley Cup playoffs, and since my two first choices have been knocked out (the Wild and the Capitals), I am rooting for the San Jose Sharks to take it all. The bearded Brent Burns, formerly from the Wild, has been one to watch this year. Either way, playoff hockey is some of the best hockey to watch! This week will be a continuation of talking about a selection of Minnesota towns I have spent time in and have a rich history that some may not know. This week's selection is Sauk Centre, boyhood home of Nobel Prize winner Sinclair Lewis, the Eagle's Nest place for Veterans, the haunted Palmer Hotel and some great fishing. A small town almost directly in the middle of Minnesota, some may not know of all the interesting history Sauk Centre has to boast.
When I was very little, my father struck a great deal for a cabin place in Sauk Centre. I remember snippets of the place when we first bought it, a quaint run-down place right off Big Sauk Lake. I still remember my mother's expression when she saw the place for the first time. We couldn't see the lake through the overgrowth, the house was falling apart and the bugs seemed to make dark clouds that filtered the sky. Let's just say she wasn't too sold on the idea of having the place. During the summers, I would ride with my dad up to the place to work on renovations and if I was lucky got to swim in the lake and have some fun. After a couple years and some hard work we had a yard, a small rebuilt cabin over the existing floor of the old one and a nice gravel road to get there. My favorite thing to do in the summers was to put on an old pair of knee-high waders and go out to the pond behind the cabin and catch turtles with a fishing net. I would keep them for a while, clean the leeches off of them and then return them to the pond to be caught again next weekend. This wasn't always fun, as I would sometimes go too far out and fill the boots full of mud and algae scum. I usually didn't find that very entertaining (yet my parents thought it was pretty funny). We had two yellow labs that were my swimming buddies, Bo and Sonny. Sonny was the only child to Bo, who unfortunately died of kidney cancer a short while after Sonny was born. Those dogs loved water, loved to hunt and, of course, liked to steal sunnies and crappies right out of your hand if you weren't looking. Sonny had an incredible talent of holding his breath and diving underwater a couple feet at a time. I also witnessed him do that with wounded ducks, which was pretty incredible. We didn't lose a lot of birds due to wounding them with him around. No matter how far or how deep they went, he would always manage to get a hold of them. In March of 2015 we lost Sonny to old age, and I'll tell you hunting without him will never be the same. I grew up at this place, and being from the cities I was very lucky to have a place so close to nature and the outdoors. If I were to pick big city life or the country, I would probably go country. Give me a cabin in the woods!

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