Seeing the sights
WORTHINGTON -- Cowboys and Indians. Pioneer life and vintage trains. The delegation from Worthington's sister city, Crailsheim, Germany, got a glimpse of what life was once like on the prairie during visits to several southwest Minnesota historical sights Tuesday.
The visitors started the day at the End-O-Line Railroad Park and Museum in Currie, where they took a ride on the only manually operated train turntable in Minnesota. "One more time, please," shouted one of the Germans as the half-revolution was completed. But time was too short for another ride, as guides quickly explained the exhibits, and the group boarded the bus once again, bound for American Indian territory -- Pipestone.
In Pipestone, there was a lunch of Indian tacos or buffalo burgers and a presentation of native dance by the Keepers of the Sacred Tradition of Pipemakers. Later, at the Pipestone National Monument, there was a hasty trip around the trails and quarries, with pamphlets written in German for those from Crailsheim and even French for the four visitors from Crailsheim's other sister city, Palmiers, France.
The Crailsheimers had the opportunity to stop in several gift shops -- a point of humor for some of them, since the word "gift" in German means poison. But instead of dangerous chemicals, they purchased small pieces of the pipestone rock and other souvenirs for loved ones at home.
The delegation spent Tuesday evening at Pioneer Village, where there was a farewell party along with their host families. Since they were scheduled to depart Worthington this morning -- some bound for several days in New York and others headed home -- it was the last event in a full schedule of events during their stay.
In the preceding days, there had been excursions to Sioux Falls, S.D., where they visited Washington Pavilion, Falls Park and the waterski show at Catfish Bay, as well as tours of local agricultural enterprises. They were especially impressed with the big farm machinery and large farming operations.
"Especially because where we live, there are only small farms. The big farms are in eastern Germany," explained Andreas Zobel, a musician with Crailsheim's Bürgerwache Band, who had visited Worthington previously 10 years before.
Zobel added that they also enjoyed playing the two concerts in Worthington and for the residents at The Meadows. But his favorite part of the trip was the steak he ate Monday night with his host family.
"It was definitely better than I have at home," he said.
Musician Michael Mitesser, making his first trip to the United States, appreciated being able to hone his English skills.
"The most enjoyable for me was yesterday, when I was able to speak to several Worthington people and understand," he said. "Yesterday was the day when I started to think in English."
As they prepared to leave their sister city behind, the Crailsheimers agreed that the friendships they made with the people of Worthington was what they would cherish the most.
"The whole journey is too short," Mitesser reflected. "To see everything is not possible, so we should come back."