Harkin Store

Harkin Store (HM191U)

Location: New Ulm, MN 56073 Nicollet County
Country: United States of America

N 44° 23.185', W 94° 35.949'

  • 0 check ins
  • 0 favorites


West Newton in 1870 was a thriving town, serving riverboat travel on the Minnesota River. It consisted of a hotel, a livery stable, a brewery, a sawmill, a wagon works, two blacksmith shops, three saloons, and many dwellings that made the town an important shipping center.

In the heart of West Newton sat the Harkin Store, a combination general store and post office operated by Alexander and Janet Harkin. Their store was the social center of the community, where farmers and townsfolk gathered to buy groceries, barter for supplies, and exchange the news of the day.

The Harkins, both natives of Scotland, had settled in the area in 1856. Alexander, a successful farmer who also ran a grain shipping business, became such a respected community leader in West Newton that a local newspaper dubbed the town "Harkinville".

As long as the town prospered, so did the Harkin Store. But in 1873 the railroad bypassed West Newton in favor of New Ulm, while river traffic dwindled. Deprived of both river and rail transportation, West Newton saw its role as a commercial center come to an end.

Further misfortune came in the 1870s when grasshoppers devastated the area's crops. Farmers could no longer buy goods or pay their debts. By 1890 most of the Harkin customers had moved away and their business had dropped to a trickle. When rural free delivery replaced the small post office in 1901, the store closed.

With much of its original stock still on the shelves, the Harkin Store reopened in 1938 as a museum operated by their granddaughter. Today, restored to is 1870 appearance by the Minnesota Historical Society, the Harkin Store offers a glimpse of a time when river towns prospered.

seal of The Minnesota Historical Society
Erected by the Minnesota Historical Society.
HM NumberHM191U
Additional InformationSee the Minnesota Historical Society's Harkin Store web page for further info.
Series This marker is part of the Minnesota Historical Society series
Historical Period19th Century, 20th Century
Historical PlaceSmall Business
Marker TypeHistoric Building
Marker ClassHistorical Marker
Marker StyleFree Standing
Year Placed2001
Placed ByMinnesota Historical Society
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Monday, September 29th, 2014 at 2:29pm PDT -07:00
Photo Credits: [1] MARTHA DECKER  [2] MARTHA DECKER  
Locationbig map
Location DescriptionMarker and parking are on the right when driving east, but the store itself is on the left when eastbound.
UTM (WGS84 Datum)15T E 372624 N 4916036
Decimal Degrees44.38641667, -94.59915000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 44° 23.185', W 94° 35.949'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds44° 23' 11.1000" N, 94° 35' 56.9400" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)507
Can be seen from road?Yes
Is marker in the median?No
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling East
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 66100-66470 Co Hwy 21, New Ulm MN 56073, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

Is this marker missing? Are the coordinates wrong? Do you have additional information that you would like to share with us? If so, check in.

Nearby Markersshow on map
Check Ins  check in   |    all

Have you seen this marker? If so, check in and tell us about it.

Comments 0 comments

Maintenance Issues
  1. This marker could use another picture or two.