On the Road: Whalan - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

On the Road: Whalan


WHALAN, Minn. (KTTC) -- When's the last time you made time to slow down and really experience what's around you? The beauty of nature, the rush of the river, a parade that stands still, a bike ride with the family. This family of 30 people from places as far as Texas and California came to all the way to Whalan for three nights to bike and just be together.

Sue Johnson of Rochester organized the reunion. "Its kind of coming back to what was. Leaving the amenities of a larger city and just being together as a family. Just enjoying our time together as a family."

Sue booked this special reunion a year in advance at the Cedar Valley Resort. Owners Larry and Sheryl Johnson spent years looking for the perfect resort to buy and operate "up north." Then they realized paradise could be found in their own backyard.

Resort Owner Larry Johnson says, "People are constantly reminding you how nice it is, how beautiful it is in the valley, in Lanesboro and Whalan and the surrounding communities. And after a while you hear it and you start looking at it in a little different way."

Life in Whalan really does take you back to a simpler time. Like at Ernie's Station built in 1917, where gas will cost you less than 18 cents a gallon.

Preserving history like this is Amy Hay's passion. She volunteers at the Whalan Museum. She tells visitors about Whalan's founder, a farmer named John Whalan who emigrated here from Ireland and about Whalan's early crop.

Amy Hay of the Whalan Museum says, "The heyday of the tobacco farming era was the 1890's until about the Great Depression in the early 1930's. There was a cigar factory here. If anyone out there finds a Daisy Cigar box, we'd love to see some. There's a few in town, but not very many."

Whalan has a history of hosting fast pitch softball teams. If you come to town over the 4th of July weekend, the Gene Johnson Memorial Field will be packed with players and their families for the annual Whalan Invitational.

And hungry ball players and bikers can find refreshment here: at the Aroma Pie Shop. On a busy summer weekend, Maggie Gergen and her team will sell out of all their pies! That's 600 slices!

Maggie Gergen says, "When the trail opened 28 years ago, the lady who lived here opened up her back door and started selling pies."

Did you ever imagine you'd be selling pies?

"No, I never did. I'm a retired Minneapolis school teacher but I love to bake and I love this area down here. It's so much fun here. I like being here with all the bikers and the tourists."

And there's fun to be found playing a round of mini golf at Gator Greens or shopping for treasures at the Old Bank Art Gallery.

All reasons people come to visit and some even stay for a lifetime in Whalan.

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