I was headed somewhere else, took a detour on a gravel road, came to a high point and my eye caught a tall white steeple looming over the farmlands.  A u-turn put me in the right direction, and as I pulled into the churchyard another car was pulling in behind me.  Ken had just arrived to clean the oldest of the churches, and he graciously told me the history of the site near Nerstrand, Minnesota.  The Norwegian community built the original limestone church in 1862, and the white wooden frame church was finished in 1894.  Complete with a beautiful pipe organ, it is a simple, sun-drenched sanctuary.  The church was decommissioned in 1973, but the Valley Grove Preservation Society has worked tirelessly to restore both churches and acquire many of the acres of land surrounding the site for prairie and oak savanna restoration.  The haze of the sky in the photo was from the prairie that was being burned just to the west of the white church.  I was delighted to have happened upon this site at the same time that Ken arrived, otherwise I would have missed the inside view and the stories he shared of the history and the efforts by the Preservation Society.  I was even able to ring the old church bell and hear it resonate from its old tower.  I am looking forward to sharing in the community’s country social in September, and hopefully attending their Christmas Eve service.  It was my lucky day for having taken that winding road off my original path to follow the white steeple.

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