MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

Antiques

Oronoco's Gold Rush

Every August, treasure hunters converge on a southern Minnesota village.

Every August, the tiny southeast Minnesota town of Oronoco becomes the mother lode.

Tents full of carved armoires and sideboards pop up along the town's narrow streets. Yards sprout crates of antique lunch boxes and duck decoys.

The church ladies bake pies, the VFW folks flip pancakes and firefighters put hot dogs on the grill. Then the people come, stampeding through the streets like sheep to salt.

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Sweden in Minnesota

Prowling antiques shops around Lindstrom, visitors find a beloved heritage.

Walking around Lindström, it's not hard to guess where the area's first settlers came from.

If the multitude of umlauts don't give it away, the herds of Dala horses and straw goats will. Factor in the giant white coffee pot in the sky, and you can be pretty sure this is Swedish country.

In the 1850s, poor Swedes came pouring into the lakes country west of Taylors Falls. It wasn't the best farmland, but it was cheap, and it looked like Sweden — lots of water, lots of trees and, unfortunately, lots of rocks.

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Cuyuna lode

In an old mining area, friends go prospecting for antiques.

Out in the countryside, fall is a good time to go hunting.

There's so much to scout out — autumn colors, new trails, interesting shops. Lots of people head for the river valleys, to orchards on the St. Croix and towns along the Mississippi.

But one October, two girlfriends and I headed north instead. And in an overlooked part of the state, between Brainerd and Mille Lacs, we found a rich vein of fun.

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