On the Road to Byron: Celebrating 150 years - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

On the Road to Byron: Celebrating 150 years

BYRON, Minn. (KTTC) -

KTTC continues its "On the Road" series, traveling to Byron, a community that is celebrating 150 years in 2017.

Just about 10 miles west of Rochester, off Highway 14, NewsCenter's Caitlin Alexander and Photographer Chuck Sibley started their visit with a pit stop at Otto's Bakery & Coffee Shop. 

About five days a week, guys like Calvin Bell, Elroy Bessler, and Ralph McClaflin meet for coffee and sweet treats at Otto and Ann Marie Hemmah's shop. They've been in business for 45 years. 

"They become your friends and your life, because you're here so much," Ann Marie said.

People call the room where the guys meet "The Room of Knowledge."

"I think Don Trump should probably call here, because we've got the problems solved," Bessler joked. 

Ed Voll doesn't claim to be the smartest guy in the Room of Knowledge, but he is the oldest.

Voll is 95 years old. He's lived in the Byron area all that time. 

He graduated from high school with the class of 1940. 

He is currently living in the same farm house he was born in. 

He said he loves Byron for the sociability and friendship it provides.

Many others KTTC spoke with agreed. 

This friendly community has continued to grow. It is now home to more than 5,000 people. 

"Everyday, we have people come in that say, 'Oh, this is our first time here. We just moved to Byron,'" Ann Marie said. 

Platted in 1867, Byron's economy was rooted in farming and the lumberyard.

The librarian for the Historical Society, Bob Nickel, is perhaps the most well-versed in Byron's ups and downs throughout the years. 

He told KTTC there were three bank robberies in the 1930s. 

"The bell would go off, and that way, the townspeople would know that the bank was being robbed," he said. 

The Historical Society also has the clothes Voll's parents wore on their wedding day in 1906. 

In its 150 years, Byron has made tremendous strides. 

It has a nationally recognized high school, according to U.S. News and World Report. 

Byron is also home to Somerby Golf Club, which was awarded the title of a residential "Course of Distinction" in Golfweek Magazine. 

Educators like Curt Gilbertson have made a point of teaching Byron history in local classrooms. 

To celebrate Byron's sesquicentennial, there are events year-round, including a History and Cemetery Tour, which took place earlier this month. 

"Just saying, hey, this is who we are, this is where we've been, and hopefully sharing a little bit of where we're going in the future," said Byron's 150th Committee Chair Amy McGinnis.

Businesses, like Otto's, are selling sesquicentennial buttons and offering deals for people wearing them.

These events are an opportunity to celebrate what Voll and the guys in the room of knowledge celebrate every day: Byron and its people. 

For more information about Byron Good Neighbor Days' events, click here

For more information about Byron Sesquicentennial celebrations and how to purchase a sesquicentennial button, click here

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