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Day 30: Stillwater, MN… The Haunted Jail, Downtown and the Trolley Ride

Wednesday, June 30th, 2021

I have been on the road for a month today…. A month.  And to be honest, I am not really sure on how I feel about it. I planned for months, I did my research, but there were and are pockets of time I need to fill in on the fly sometimes. And for the first time, today was one of them. The emotional goodbye of the last family for a while, missing my family in Florida, and not really “feeling” travel today…It was all a bit much for this sensitive heart this morning. And as I closed my car door, started my car, and put in my GPS my next location (like usual)…. I broke down crying. Just a big old whopping panic attack, right in the middle of Minnesota.  I cried it out, driving through the sadness, and trying to get it together. I couldn’t check in until 3 p.m., so I knew that I would have to occupy my time.

Today and tomorrow was slated for Stillwater, MN…a beautiful city sitting on the banks of St. Croix River. But I didn’t plan anything, so I felt a bit like a fish out of water. And with the emotional morning, I didn’t really know what I was even in the mood for. So I parked by their Historic Courthouse and got it together, took some deep breaths, chewed some gum, and rolled down my window to talk to the woman who was planting outside the building.  Her name was Cindy and said the place was open to tour whenever I felt like it, but guided tours were later. Since I had the place to myself, I just roamed the hall ways and stairwells. My brother had gotten married to his first wife here 15 plus years ago, and I didn’t honestly remember most, if anything of it, I think he’d rather have it that way anyways.

First floor of the Courthouse… offices now
Second floor for meetings, weddings, etc.
Beautiful staircases
The Tour Guide and Myself
Outside the Courthouse

After I had been on my own in the building for awhile, even walking the old jail connected to it which was SOOOO creepy, Cindy and I started chatting again in the hallway and she offered to show me everything else normally on their “Nook and Cranny” tour they hold once a month.  Well, I am only in town for 2 days, so she was kind enough to take me to the second floor jail, the oldest part of the first jail, AND the basement.  Every horror movie you can think of was how that basement felt to me… merge “The Conjuring” and “Insidious” together and THAT was the level of creep factor!  She showed me where they keep all the historical documents and items, how they decorate and stage rooms, and we even used the ghost app for a bit in the jail area…. “Jones” and “Virginia” was said while in the cells. She was incredibly kind and nice and VERY helpful…if you are reading this Cindy, THANK YOU for being so sweet on a day that my sensitive heart needed it the most.

I was lucky enough to get a free, solo tour of the jail…even some alone time to talk to the spirits 🙂
Where the carpet stops and the jail begins…
I was in shock by how small this area was for them… you’d have to hope to be a small man to move around this table.
Small quarters
The jail door was curved out, I found that really interesting
Most jails I have seen seemed to have windows on the other side of the hallway
A jail cell that had stuff left behind in it
Every time I visit a Prison or Jail, I find myself usually sitting in one of the bunks and staying very still to see if anyone wants to talk.
Some cells were darker and felt heavier
The bathroom was separate from the cells
Old steps to the basement of the Courthouse, this was by far the entrance to the creepiest part of the building
I felt an INSTANT heaviness down here…expecting Freddy Krueger to step out any moment.
Storage area in the basement- sincerely creepy
She showed me all of the rooms, and yes, I got permission to take pics down here
Dark corners always make the hair on my neck stand up
Just creepy

My stomach was talking out loud, so I needed to find lunch.  How Stillwater is set up is that a lot of the homes are located high in the hills (a San Francisco feel) and the Main Street businesses are at the foot of the town against the water line of the St. Croix River.  I was able to find the downtown area with no problem, free parking on the street, and it was then all about walking around and absorbing the energy of the town. (VERY MUCH like Galena, IL).   A red and white awning caught my eye, a 50s Diner called “Lou’s” on the corner! How fun! So after a small wait, I was seated by a nice, big picture window. I ordered a cheeseburger and onion rings with a Diet Coke, I thought perfect meal for a diner. Now, it was my first time eating alone in awhile, so that was a bit weird to get used to… but then I just wound up talking to the waitress, the guy sitting alone at the table next to me…and the two women who sat down after he left.  I may have a social addiction…whatever, I don’t care. If people don’t want to talk to me, they can leave, run, scream or all the above. I would like to note, that has never happened. The food was delicious, company was great, and I paid today’s kindness here first…big tip for my young waitress. LOVE making them so happy!

The “Grand Garage” was a fantastic place for shopping with the feel of an indoor marketplace- I love these types of places!
I love the brickwork on the floor, and the stone walls
There is a magical feeling one gets when shopping indoors in a Main Street type feel.
I am always in awe of the details in staircases back in the day.
Even the glass work over the restrooms, so beautiful.
Downtown Stillwater, MN reminds me of Galena, IL- both beautiful cities that are also built into the hills with large bodies of water nearby.
I am a sucker for cool signage, I am amazed at the creativity!
Man, I LOVE a Main Street, so much history with nostalgia and the architecture is just breathtaking!
Lunch at Leo’s Grill and Malt Shop in Stillwater, MN
Inside Leo’s Grill and Malt Shop- didn’t have to wait too long, about 20 mins for a table
The cheeseburger and onion rings were delicious!
Enjoying my day!

With a full heart, I walked around some more, headed to the water area where they made one of their bridges JUST for pedestrians and cyclists, and made a new bridge a couple miles over. This helped keep the main traffic out of the downtown area, giving the locals of Stillwater their city back. It was a beautiful day, so it was a nice time calling the family while walking the bridge. It actually connects Minnesota to Wisconsin….pretty cool. As I was walking on it, the attendant who lifts the bridge for boats coming, he saw me opening my candy cigarettes and said “Is that what I think they are?” I said “YES!! They have candy cigarettes in town, want one?” He said yes and was so happy- I felt great. Nothing like some middle aged peeps chewing on candy cigarettes on a bridge in MN.

The view of Stillwater from the bridge

After my sugar high, I headed to the Trolley ticket booth and inquired on the next tour.  The booth was easy to find, ticket’s were $13.50- affordable, the tour was for 45 minutes and I didn’t have to wait long for my 2:00 tour time. I chatted with a woman who sat with me on the same bench while we waited and asked her if she was thirsty, and she said yes, and I said that I was going to get a bottle of water, would she like one. She seemed shocked I asked, then more shocked I paid for it without any strings attached. The ticket lady saw what I was doing and gave me the bottle for the other gal for free. Nice! 

The tour started promptly at 2 pm with plenty of seats available for the choosing. It was open air, and I never felt hot, plenty of breeze so that you weren’t sweating to death. Windows were nice and clear for taking pictures through, and Bob was clear and detailed with every home, location, historical spot, and even trivia.  He obviously loves what he does, and his passion and talents for being a trolley guide came through his speech and smile.  He was easy to understand, and loud enough to hear in the back. Sometimes I go on these tours and you can’t hear them very well or they muddle their words and so you spend a lot of the time trying to concentrate on every word instead of relaxing and enjoying. THIS was relaxing, even exhilarating at some points as Bob would maneuver through the steep hills of Stillwater- both up and down.  It was great, and I would HIGHLY recommend taking the Trolley tour in Stillwater…ask for Bob, because he’s the best! Tell him Amy, the Relocated Tourist sent you. He was even nice enough to introduce me on the trolley to everyone and what I am doing on this big adventure, it made me feel very special.  **** SIDE NOTE- on the tour you get to go past JESSICA LANGE’S home that she lived in when she lived here. YES!! Being an “American Horror Story” fan…I geeked out. Bob, the Guide, also owned a Restaurant in the area, years ago, and was close friends to Sam Shepherd, her husband, and she would come in with him as well to eat as his place. HOW COOL IS THAT?!?!?!?!?

The tour took us into the hills, passing gorgeous homes like these!
When your guest house is the size of most people’s homes lol
Bob meets Walter- he was one of my favorite new friends of the trip!

So a full day, and it was then a trip to the hotel for much needed rest, time out of the heat and sunshine, and to just veg without thinking about anything for awhile.  But, God has a sense of humor, and when I checked in, my room wasn’t ready, then the tv didn’t work, and all I wanted to do was lay down. So happy to report I have picked up dinner from Cub Foods, taking it easy tonight, planning tomorrow, and writing up today’s happenings. I hope you enjoyed this, see you tomorrow!

Thank you for your kindness!!

I LOVE sharing the joy of Adventure, and Travel! Every dollar you support me with goes right back into my mission for equipment, gas, and essentials. But most importantly, when you support me financially it tells me you BELIEVE in me and MY VALUE, and that means more to me than ANYTHING! So THANK YOU for YOU!!


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