Hidden among the cornfields along highway 55 in northwestern Minnesota on some of the flattest land you'll ever see is a little town called Tenney. Having recently discovered that America's smallest town was only three hours away, my curiosity finally got the best of me. So I rose early on Saturday morning and made the three-hour drive in 2 hours and 57 minutes, took some pictures, and then made it back in time for lunch.
The town did not match the pleasant picture that I had created in my mind. It consists of a large grain elevator next to the highway and a few dilapidated old buildings along with a few run down houses and trailers. There is one dirt road that runs through the town like a horseshoe. You can walk a circle around the town in about 10 minutes. There is nothing pretty about it. Everything appears desolate. But having seen it now, I like it even more and I can't wait to go back when I can spend some more time there. Perhaps the townspeople would be kind enough to invite me out for the next town festival?
Speaking of the townspeople, I did not spot a single soul in the town (real or imagined). Not one person peeking out their window at me or walking out to get a newspaper. Not even a dog barking. Nothing. I began to wonder if there was really anyone living in this town that suddenly seemed like something out of Cormac McCarthy's The Road. The only sound in the air was the wind whipping through the barren trees and an occasional car passing on highway 55. I wanted to knock on a door but feared that I would only be met by the ghost of a 19th century lumberjack and his quilt-making wife.
Nevertheless, I am now more fascinated than ever by this town and its six residents. I want to know their stories. I want to know if they are happy in their little town without a single satellite dish, or if they feel trapped in Tenney like a woman stuck in a dead marriage. Perhaps they have discovered a kind of joy in simplicity that we city folk can never know. Or perhaps they long to escape to civilization and curse the day that they were born in this desolate corner of the universe. I want to know.