Shacks, Sheds & Shelters
This project has been published and is now available as a book.
Sometimes, it is good to take a moment to reminisce about our family’s pioneer past and humble beginnings right here in Minnesota and how they got to where they are today. Their primitive life in pursuit of free land can have the affect of stirring appreciation for our earthy roots.
Minnesota is a state with nearly sixty percent of its population living on the ever expanding island that is the Twin Cities, an island of lifestyle in an ocean of cornfields and soybeans, where there is good espresso, wireless internet connections and a couple of orchestras and a dozen theaters. But it wasn’t always like that. Minnesota has like other upper Midwestern States some very rural beginnings.
It takes about an hours drive to leave behind the last fast-food discount multiplex warehouses in the midst of a sea of asphalt, the no-man’s-land of twenty-four-hour gas stations to find yourself in the farmed western prairies. Many times it felt to me like traveling back in time to document with the camera some structures of Minnesota’s early humble beginnings.
Before the early settlers could build a more substantial dwelling, they built often life-saving shelters
on the vast prairies by any means available. These small two and three room houses, just large enough to house a small family, were often the first prairie homes to protect the settlers from Minnesota’s fierce winters and hot summers.
Most have been long disappeared but many of the early wooden structures can be still seen because many of them have been repurposed as stables, tool sheds or for storage.
This series of photographs of Sheds, Shacks and Shelters is dedicated to the can-do spirit of the American frontier. The people who built them are long dead yet many of these structures remain to dot the upper Midwest, many of them unkempt and decaying. Though it looks like a good strong
wind could knock many of them over, they still stand, reminding us of another era and another way
of life – a humble testament to a humble dream.