backroads rush river

Driving down Sibley County Road 8, a motorist could easily miss the Rush River Wayside Rest. There are no highway signs warning of the site, no truck scales, vending machines or even a map stating “You Are Here!” There isn’t even a turn-off to park your vehicle.

Yet this little speck of a landmark, perched between the road and a plowed field in Kelso Township, has been a staple of local lore for many years.

For a long time, the wayside rest was simply a lone spruce tree. Rumor has it the tree offered the one spot of privacy on the prairie where a person could answer the call of nature in an emergency. It jokingly became known as the Rush River Wayside Rest.

(It’s unclear if the moniker came from the rest’s proximity to Rush River, Minn. — a small settlement consisting of a couple of houses and a former creamery; or the South Branch of the Rush River which also flows nearby.)

A number of years ago, Mother Nature clipped off the spruce — leaving behind a three-foot-tall stump which remains this very day. It was also about that time when an unknown party deposited a toilet bowl at the site — cementing its reputation as a wayside rest stop.

Over the years the rest stop has seen various transformations. Plastic lawn ornaments have appeared and disappeared. The toilet bowl is long gone and has been replaced by two porcelain bathtubs resembling a rural Cialis advertisement. Most recently, a sign has been erected officially identifying the site as the “Rush River Wayside Rest.”

What spring holds in store for the rest stop is anyone’s guess. A primitive sign reading “CLOSED” in red letters peeks out of one of the bathtubs. A large rock rests against the spruce stump which also has a small chain wrapped around it. One of the lawn ornaments, a white plastic swan, also resides inside one of the bathtubs.

Stashed between the stump and one of the bathtubs is a sign that the wayside rest is more popular than one might think. There is a small plastic container which appears to serve as a geocaching goodie-box. Inside the container are a golf ball, a penny, a couple of small toys and other assorted trinkets.

So if you are a geocacher, the Rush River Wayside Rest should be fairly easy to find. Leave a memento. May I suggest toilet paper … they’re out.