Brynhild (Brynnie) Rowberg, born in 1917, grew up in Northfield on Nevada Street, and her father was editor of the Northfield Independent Newspaper. After attending Northfield public schools and St. Olaf College, she worked for 30 years in the U.S. Foreign Service and was stationed in Washington, D.C., and several foreign countries. After retirement in 1978, she returned to Northfield. Her stories reflect her extensive knowledge of Northfield history and her early years in Northfield that were rich with experiences with the Northfield railroad depot, trains, personnel, and related events. She died in 2019.
Departing for War
The depot and trains played a role in the departure of soldiers. Brynhild Rowberg talks about her recollections from World War II and the deep emotions that ran during that time.
Hobos during the Great Depression
The experience of the hobos, unemployed men during the Great Depression, was in stark contrast to the elegance of the train dining car Brynhild Rowberg remembers from her childhood.
The Man with the Broom
Before cars were common, the town relied on horses, and streets and the area around the depot were kept tidy by man with a broom. Brynhild Rowberg tells a humorous story about his encounter with a visitor who had come to speak at Carleton College.
The Railroad as a Mixed Blessing
Farmers had mixed feelings for the railroads which took their land, but also helped transport their crops to market. Brynhild Rowberg’s grandfather and his neighbor took the railroad to court because their didn’t think the railroad had fairly compensated them for their land.
Riding the Dan Patch Line
The Dan Patch Rail line stretched from Minneapolis to Northfield. Brynhild Rowberg recalls the enjoyment and convenience of riding the Dan Patch to get to downtown Minneapolis or to travel to Northfield.
The Steam Engine
The steam engine symbolized mechanical power during the 1920s and 1930s. Brynhild Rowberg talks about the sight and sounds of the engine and its stark contrast with travel by ox cart in her grandfather’s day.
Student Arrivals and Departures
Brynhild Rowberg talks about St. Olaf and Carleton students arriving and departing by train at the depot during the 1930s and how they would fill the station to overflowing.
The Train Dining Car
What was the train dining car like during Prohibition? A glamorous apparition, says Brynhild Rowberg, who recalls watching them as they passed through Northfield when she was a child.