Letter: Pioneer Village

By Nobles County Historical Society Board of DirectorsJacoba Nagel, NCHS President Within Worthington's city limits a gem on the prairie lakes sparkles, shines and invites thousands of people to visit each summer when it is open to the public. Pi...

By Nobles County Historical Society Board of Directors
Jacoba Nagel, NCHS President

Within Worthington’s city limits a gem on the prairie lakes sparkles, shines and invites thousands of people to visit each summer when it is open to the public. Pioneer Village is this gem and, this summer, its staff welcomed approximately 1,000 visitors from 38 states, Washington, D.C. and five foreign countries. A large percentage of them saw this historic village from Interstate 90 and pulled off the interstate to visit this gem on the prairie. While they were in the city, these visitors may also have shopped, purchased fuel, grabbed something to eat, visited other places of interest and/or stayed in a motel. Even before Pioneer Village opened for the 2016 season, 1,268 school students, their teachers and their chaperones came from Iowa, Minnesota and South Dakota for school tours. In addition, approximately 750 people enjoyed the Old-Fashioned Fourth of July festivities. This fall 531 children and 434 adults traveled along the Halloween Trail, and 597 children and 838 adults attended the Old-Fashioned Christmas. During 2016 a total of approximately 5,400 children and adults stepped back in time to experience elements of life in by-gone years.

  When visitors enter the grounds, they are enveloped within the atmosphere of the late 1800s and the earlier 1900s as they step into a time when the city of Worthington and Nobles County were young and life was simpler. The old buildings, the boardwalks, the shade trees and the mature lawn are only four of the physical elements that make Pioneer Village a gem on the prairie; however, many more elements are involved in its charm. This village provides education for young and old, a chance for many to reminisce about the “good old days,” a place for social gatherings and a memorial for those who made this county what it is. A volunteer has established a garden plot and on the Fourth of July provided hands-on gardening experiences for visitors. During school tours students learn about harvesting grain by hand, attending country school, shopping in the general store, printing a newspaper, going to the doctor, living in a sod house, going to jail and harness making. Each of the stops on the village’s walking tour provides information, experiences and memories for more than 1,000 schoolchildren each year. Descendants of people who actually lived in the houses, attended the churches, visited the businesses, lived on farms or had ties to artifacts establish a precious connection to this historic site. Even the trees have special meaning. For example, some were donated by Dorothy Kirk, and Duane Schreiber planted the trees along the north fence as his Eagle Scout project shortly before he lost his life in a car accident. Today those trees stand as a memorial to that young man, as do the buildings and artifacts within the village memorialize thousands of others.

  Pioneer Village’s location among Interstate 90 attracts a large percentage of people who visit because they see the sign on the elevator that draws their eyes down to a bird’s-eye view of the village itself. Many visitors state that they would not have stopped in Worthington if they had not seen the village from the interstate, and really appreciate that they may go through part of the village and then leave to get something to eat and maybe shop a bit before they return to continue their tour. This gem is located on what is comparable to an island on the prairie with the grassland on the west and south and the fairgrounds on the east. The serenity of the village is accompanied by the hum of traffic; and peacefulness descends on those who visit and enjoy what generations of dedicated volunteers including Eagle Scouts, 4-H clubs, churches, Kiwanis groups, service groups and community corrections personnel have done to make Pioneer Village a gem on the prairie.

  Thanks for the successful year.



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