|St. Nicholas was built in 1905|
This past weekend, my partner Bill and I went on a Minnesota safari of sorts. We packed up a lunch, put the hiking boots on, and hit the road for Caribou Township in Northeastern Kittson County, a land of myth for me.
I know some people reading that will be amused by my description, or even perplexed. Why 'myth', you ask? Well, it's because I had heard about Caribou all my growing up, spoken of in such mysterious ways by adults that would not or could not explain to me where it was or what it meant. So I have had it in the back of my mind for years, half-forgotten and not much thought of. But once I began throwing myself more fully into local history research, it popped up in my mind's eye again and would not go away.
Yesterday's trip was part nostalgia1, but mostly discovery. I remembered the countryside, but mostly like a memory from a dream. There were few people or vehicles to be seen once we headed north of Lake Bronson towards Caribou.
|One of the trails we explored; some |
were far less visible than this...
I am thankful for one luxury that St. Nicolas' provided - a two-seater outhouse, which I availed myself of while visiting the area. It was a long ways to a public toilet otherwise!
1 - I remembered my Mom taking me out into Caribou on a work day one summer, when she was visiting residents in that area of the county in her capacity as a Homemaker for Kittson County Welfare. To my young eyes, used to the flat, open country of the valley close to the Red River of the North, it was eye-opening to see that my own county had much different topography with heavily wooded areas, rocky terrain, and abundant marshes. It was a whole other ball game in that part of the county - not much farming, but a lot of subsistence living, including running cattle, grazing them on marginal land.
2 - From my research, it appears that many Ukrainian Orthodox churches were built in the region, in what is now known as southern Manitoba, and also in northwestern Minnesota. One of them was St. Michael's in the Arbakka District on the Manitoba side of the border, and another was the St. Nicholas' in the Caribou area of Minnesota's Kittson County. For some reason, some people have misidentified St. Nicholas (aka the Caribou Church) as St. Michael, and that is incorrect. If you're reading this and know the area, please tell me if my conclusions are wrong, but I don't think so.
Another resource that confirms my conclusions is a book called They Chose Minnesota, published by the Minnesota Historical Society.