As storm clouds swirl, an unexpected sanctuary appears in a small Minnesota town

Turbulent storm clouds swirl in the sky above Cleveland, Minn.
Turbulent storm clouds swirl in the sky above the former Cleveland Methodist Church in Cleveland, Minn., on June 4, 2019.
Andrew Krueger | MPR News

Last Tuesday seemed like a great day for a Minnesota road trip.

Sunny skies, warm conditions, and — because I work Saturdays and Sundays — the day off.

There was a chance of strong thunderstorms, but the forecasts I saw that morning put the timing into the evening hours. Plenty of time to reach a few places in the Mankato and St. Peter areas that were on my photography to-do list, and make it back to the Twin Cities before the storms hit.

The storms, though, had other ideas.

By midday they were rolling across western Minnesota. By mid-afternoon they were nearing the Minnesota River valley.

Raindrops started falling as I finished taking photos at my last stop.

I charted a new course for getting back to the Cities, trying to avoid the worst of the severe weather. As I headed east from St. Peter on State Highway 99, with wind gusts picking up and storm clouds swirling, I noticed an interesting steeple off to my right that seemed like it could make a good photo against the dark sky.

That proved to be the start of an interesting and unexpected diversion on a stormy afternoon. I posted a Twitter story about the experience later in the week; you can follow what happened via those posts:

Update: After posting the story on Twitter last Thursday, I received a lot of feedback — including from someone who knows the two men from the historical society, and can put me in touch with them to share a photo of the church against the stormy sky.

Andrew Krueger is the weekend editor at MPR News. Reach him at, or on Twitter @akpix.

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