The Spirit stops in Albert Lea, Minn., close to the Spam Museum

September 1, 2020

Chuck Robinson

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The next stop is a familiar one for OOIDA’s tour trailer. It is in Albert Lea, Minn.

The Spirit is scheduled to be at the Albert Lea Trails Travel Center Petro on Sept 2-5. It is Exit 11 from I-35, just south of the I-90 interchange.

The Trail family has operated the Trails Travel Center for decades. Rocky Trail and his father, Bernard Trail, bought the East Side Truck Stop in the 1980s, according to an Albert Lea Tribune article. The Trails Travel Center was built in 1998.

The travel center has the Skol Woodfire Grill and Tavern restaurant. There is parking for 305 trucks there.

Spam Museum is nearby

The Albert Lea Petro is less than 20 miles west from the Spam Museum in Austin, Minn. Spam is a brand of canned cooked pork made by Hormel Foods Corp. It was introduced in 1937 and was widely consumed in World War II and after.

Roadside America says the museum has been open since 2002, and it has a few pictures. It might be fun to become better introduced to Slammin’ Spammy, Hormel’s wartime mascot, and there is a mock assembly line and cooking demonstrations. There might be someone you need to buy a pair of glow-in-the-dark Spam boxer shorts from the museum gift shop.

Admission is free. Take a ride-share over to see the Spam Museum or take a virtual tour by emailing Hormel.

Meat packing has been important to the region. Albert Lea itself had a meat packing plant for a long time. The Wilson Foods plant was taken over by Farmland Foods in the 1980s. A fire in 2001 destroyed the plant, according to an account by Minnesota Public Radio.

The town is named for a nearby lake, which was named for a U.S. Army mapmaker. During the Civil War, the mapmaker joined the Confederate Army. He attained the Confederate rank of major and retired to Texas after the war. In the 1890s, according to Minnesota Public Radio, some residents lobbied to have the name changed so it would not commemorate a Confederate officer. It was counterargued that the town was named for the lake, not the man, and the lake didn’t take sides in the war.

Stop by when you see The Spirit

If you see OOIDA’s tour trailer, stop by and say hello to Jon Osburn, its skipper. He enjoys visiting about the Association’s activities and current issues. He usually has copies of Land Line Magazine to hand out. You can join or renew your OOIDA membership for $10 off the regular price there. Free face masks are available at The Spirit. You also can get vouchers for flu, shingles and pneumonia vaccines there.

After Albert Lea, OOIDA’s tour trailer is scheduled to stop in Grand Island, Neb., and then York Neb. Here is the schedule for The Spirit.

Chuck Robinson

Chuck Robinson formerly was senior copy editor for a weekly trade publication serving the fresh produce industry. He has served trade publications, horticultural journals and community newspapers for 25 years.