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Five rural communities pepper Fennimore county: Muskrat City, about fifteen miles south of Agincourt; Nimby, in the southeast part of the county; Grou, almost due east of Agincourt; Fahnstock, ten miles west on Hiway #7; and Resort, a loose assortment of rustic hotels around the lower portion of Lakes Sturm und Drang. Depending on your definition of “community”, Resort may not qualify.

Muskrat City was a robust contender for the seat of county government in the years before the Civil War, but the land was too flat and the Muskrat River too prone to flooding for it to succeed, despite its boosters. Within three years of county formation the court house had shifted to Agincourt. The land between Agincourt and Nimby is called “The Barrens”, such marginal land for either crops or grazing that Nimby’s growth was stagnant; and the community’s no-can-do attitude didn’t help. Grou, on the other hand, was settled by Dutch immigrants from Friesland who are so used to terra-forming—desalinating land and managing water resources—that agriculture, dairy cattle and swine have become local industries; Grou goat cheese is renowned throughout the area.

Continuing counter-clockwise around the county, Fahnstock was established by eastern financial interests represented locally by brothers Willis and Rudyard Fahnstock, the latter also an MD with a brisk practice in Agincourt. The village is close enough to Agincourt and the highway sufficiently reliable, even before macadam paving, that it has been a virtual bedroom commuter suburb since the last quarter of the 19th century.

And finally, there is the loose accumulation of resorts along the east, south and west shore of Sturm und Drang. When the NITC extended a spur line for summer traffic in 1910, the area came to be known popularly as Resort, with the Station-Store serving as interurban depot, rural post office, and general store. Regular service on the NITC mainline treated both Grou and Fahnstock as flag stops.

Of those five satellite communities, Muskrat City and Nimby (for obvious reasons) hold little interest for me. The others have played varying roles in the story so far, but Fahnstock and Resort have been in my mind—notice I didn’t say “on”—and are likely to play some part in the upcoming October exhibit.

One of these days I have to draw a map of Fennimore county, don’t you think?

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