The abandoned “ghost town” still attracts tourists

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Once a thriving community near the Iowa border in Minnesota, Forestville now boasts a population of zero.

The locals are long gone, but the tourists are still visiting.

Forestville does not need a mayor. Thus, Matt Eidem is the city manager.

“It was quite an important town because of its position on the stagecoach line,” Eidem said.

In 1852, the first settlers arrived in Forestville after signing treaties with the Dakota people.

The general store, which still exists today, was the epicenter.

“You needed things that would draw people to the area. If you read old ads to get people to Forestville, they would talk about an old general store and schools,” Eidem said.

Aimed at immigrants from Europe, Canada and the East Coast, the store was stocked with $700 worth of merchandise. The goal was to make it a one-stop shop.

“It was the Amazon of its time. You could get whatever you wanted from the general store,” Eidem said.

This included drugs that probably wouldn’t fly these days.

“When you were sick, you saw someone here with a cookbook,” Eidem said.

Forestville reached its peak in the 1860s with a population of 150, making it one of the largest towns south of Minneapolis. There were sawmills, a forge, a hotel and even a distillery.

But much of it had disappeared by 1910.

The railway never passed as the town had planned and people moved to other nearby towns.

The Meighen family purchased the land and turned it into an industrial farm. The surviving buildings and property are originals.

Today, visitors fill the empty spaces that are worth 170 years of history – not bad for a city that hasn’t had a single inhabitant for over a century.

The general public can visit Forestville from Memorial Day weekend through October.

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