Finding Minnesota: Wykoff, where visitors pay to spend a night in jail


WYKOFF, Minn. — People from across the country travel to the town of Wykoff, just to spend the night in jail.

That’s not the only unusual thing you’ll find in this one-horse town.

“We have 440 people and at five you can shoot a cannon down main street and you won’t hit anybody,” said Becky Schmidt, city clerk and treasurer.

Quiet, quaint, and a little bit odd. Those are words used to describe the town of Wykoff.  

“He basically was the guy in Wykoff. He lived and died in this place,” said Schmidt while talking about one of the town’s most notorious residents.

Ed Krueger ran the Jack Sprat Grocery Store for half a century. When he died at the age of 91, he willed everything he owned to the town, exactly as it was. 

Not knowing what to do, city leaders turned Krueger’s life and store into a museum. Prices and groceries from decades ago still don the shelves

In this town, preservation is paramount. Because a couple blocks away sits another iconic building that hasn’t changed much.

The Wykoff Jail Haus opened in 1913.

“The marshals were paid $20 a month to take care of the jailhouse,” said Schmidt.

It served its purpose for half a century, and when it closed, the city council thought about tearing it down. But in the early 90’s it was turned into a bed and breakfast, and then a few years ago, Schmidt put it on Airbnb.

“It just blew up. It went crazy. The first year we had rentals almost every, single night,” said Schmidt.

The money generated from overnight stays, helps the town pay for upkeep at the jail and at Ed’s Museum.

Pretty much everything in the jail is original- though a bathroom and shower have been added. Guests who go on lockdown, can stay in a tight cell that law breakers slept in a century ago.

Schmidt said she was skeptical in the beginning. 

“Even people in town are going, why? But I think it is just the experience,” she said.

Some guests really get into it – dressing up for their time behind bars. And knowing full well that this is the opposite of luxury.

“I tell them right online, if you want Taj Mahal, this is not it. This is roughing it and it is a jail,” said Schmidt.

Even so, visitors have come from across the country, and as far away as Australia, just to spend the night behind bars. A 110-year-old cellblock that adds to the wonder of Wykoff.

“It’s just a friendly community and we have a weird, couple of entities to entertain you with,” said Schmidt.

To learn more about Wkyoff Jail Haus, click here.

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