The Town That Time Forgot: Lake Wobegon

Whenever I hear the words, “small town life,” the first image that pops into my head is the town of Lake Wobegon in Minnesota. It is a place, “where the women are strong, the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.”

Most of the current population is made up descendants of: 1) German immigrants, who are mostly members of the Catholic parish of Our Lady of Perpetual Responsibility; and, 2) descendants of Norwegian and Swedish immigrants, who comprise the Lake Wobegon Lutheran Church.

The town is the home of the Whippets baseball team, the tuna hotdish, snow (lots of snow), Norwegian bachelor farmers, ice fishing, tongues frozen to cold metal objects, and lutefisk (fish treated with lye which, after being reconstituted, is reminiscent of “the afterbirth of a dog or the world’s largest chunk of phlegm”). It is also the home of the Mist County Fair, old-fashioned show yards with flowers “like Las Vegas showgirls,” sweet corn, a magnificent grain elevator, and the pleasant Lake Wobegon itself.

Other Places of Interest

  • There is one location for auto repair, Jack’s, which also offers a correspondence course for Jack’s School of Thought. Inquire within. Ask for Jack.
  • The motto of Ralph’s Pretty Good Grocery is that if you can’t find it at Ralph’s, you can probably get along (pretty good) without it.
  • Bertha’s Kitty Boutique, specifically for people who care about cats.
  • Buck’s Rent-a-Tux
  • Co-op Hardware (“If at first you don’t succeed, try using a bigger hammer.”)
  • The Whippets, (Town Team Baseball, “We’ll Whip ya, whip ya good!”)
  • Tentative Point, (better known as Lover’s Lane)
  • Café Boeuf, “Where the elite meet to greet and eat,” with maitre d’ Maurice.

Set of Prairie Home Companion

This is a simple town with citizens who appreciate small town life, mostly with a sense of humor.

You won’t find Lake Wobegon on any map, and not because it’s too small. That’s not it at all. Lake Wobegon is the seat of Mist County, Minnesota, a tiny county near the geographic center of Minnesota that supposedly does not appear on maps because of the “incompetence of surveyors who mapped out the state in the 19th century.”

Actually, you can’t find it on a map because it’s a fictional town, a creation of Garrison Keillor of A Prairie Home Companion for his radio variety program heard by millions across the United States on National Public Radio every Saturday evening from 5pm CST to 7pm CST. An encore can be heard on Sunday mornings (depending on where you are).

Mr. Keillor hosts regular characters, even a sound man, and musical guests.

Garrison Keillor and sound effects man Fred Newman_edited-1


Guy Noir Private Eye

It’s one of the best ways to spend two hours of your time, and in this day and age, that’s hard to come by.

Tune in next weekend and give it a chance! You won’t regret it. If you are unsure of where to listen, go to to find a station near you.


The Town That Time Forgot: Lake Wobegon — 10 Comments

  1. I am still thinking about the crazy Norwegian bachelor farmers who as I look it up apparently make biscuits. One of your most wonderful tours.

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