In Minnesota, no country left

After 122 years, the stockyards of South St. Paul close.

The auctioneer’s voice is gone from the stockyards in South St. Paul. After 122 years the stockyards – once the largest in the world – closed on Friday of last week. As the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul have expanded out in all directions, where there was once farmland, there is now suburbia. To make way for a business park with offices and warehouses, the buildings and livestock pens of the stockyards will soon be razed.

The city continues to push out the suburb and the suburb continues to push out the country. But the country has nothing to push out, as it is only pushed against borderlines of expanding cities and suburbs. Rural land, now, can only become smaller.

The South St. Paul stockyard operations will move to the Central Livestock Association stockyards in Zumbrota, Minn. Many of the South St. Paul employees will follow. But the Central Livestock Association also sells animals over the Internet, which will soon be the best and possibly only way to conduct livestock business.

Where then do the people of the stockyards go – those that sold and bought and those that worked in the pens or in the concession stands? And what of the people in similar industries? Breweries and flour mills have been empty for years in the Twin Cities and are now like ruins along the Mississippi River.

Some will be able to follow the work, like those who will go to the stockyards in Zumbrota, but most will not. Most will have to find a new place in the business park with offices and warehouses that will be built where the stockyards once were.

With different work, the culture of the stockyards, like that of the breweries and flour mills along the Mississippi River, will recede until it is gone.

And when it is gone, there will be no country for these stockyard men and women – they will have been broken by the push between the city, the suburb and the borderline.