On The Road: Northfield - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

On The Road: Northfield

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NORTHFIELD, Minn. (KTTC) -- Northfield is a college town first and foremost. It is home to two private liberal arts schools, St. Olaf and Carleton Colleges. 

"Carleton has been a part of the community for almost 150 years now, and Northfield has always been extremely supportive of Carleton and Carleton does a lot for Northfield as well," said Eric Hillemann, Carleton's Senior Associate in Archives.

Students and faculty from both schools converge downtown, a picturesque spot with the Cannon River flowing through it and lots of restaurants, bars, and shops to explore. Zach Rubin, a Carleton student, doesn't shun his St. Olaf brethren. "I have some friends there. Sports teams interact a little bit, you know, if you're on the rugby team or something like that, they came over and hung out with us a little bit."

We asked around and everyone said there's one place you have to go to, Hogan Brothers. "If you're trying to get lunch, for sure," said Rubin. What's the best thing on the menu? Another Carleton student, Molly Ellsworth, really likes Hogan Brothers' frozen treats. "The ice cream here is really good." A popular choice is the combo hoagie, which consists of ham, corn beef, and salami. "I go with the combo, I get a large so I can take half home, because honestly, it's pretty good the next day," said Rubin.

Since the denizens of both schools inhabit such a tight space there's bound to be conflict. "Oh there's definitely a rivalry, especially for the football teams, big time," said Rubin. But even though they have their differences, they are also a lot alike. "The local mythology, of course, is that Carleton and St. Olaf are entirely different and always rivals and things, but if you take anyone from either college to a different locale and they run into each other, they're gonna find 'Boy, do we have a lot more in common than what separates us,'" said Hillemann.

The schools have even collaborated on an app for smartphones, Northfield Historical, that shows off everything that Northfield has to offer. "So one of the things that Northfield Historical will tell you is about the Wind Chime Memorial Tower here. So this got built in the wake of the death of a philosophy professor. He was also a religion professor here at St. Olaf," said Jason Menard, a geospatial instructional technologist at St. Olaf College. "Sometimes with projects like this, when its a community engagement thing, when we're both in the same town, the sum is definitely greater than its parts."

In the end, the town and the colleges wouldn't be the same without each other. "It's great, Northfield wouldn't be what it is without having both of the colleges present," said Hillemann. A former St. Olaf student noted, Northfield is a "great little town, lots going on, great culture." Matt Bettinger, a local who works at Hogan Brothers said, "I bike all the time throughout town, hang out by the river. It's a really friendly environment, I like it."

Northfield is also well known for Jesse James's attempted bank robbery in 1876. The town will be holding its "Defeat of Jesse James Days" from September 9 through 13.

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