Construction on truck stop, cafe nears completion

Photo by Tom Hintgen
Visitors to Rothsay quickly notice big changes with enhancements at the Rothsay truck stop and café.

By Tom Hintgen

Otter Tail County Correspondent

Customer service is important to any community. Such is the town of Rothsay where a major expansion is close to completion at the truck stop and café.

The Rothsay facility is among truck stops all across the nation that have evolved from simple rest stops for truckers to multi-functional facilities that provide fuel, food and other essential services.

Truck drivers stopping at truck stops have numerous benefits, both for the drivers themselves and for the overall efficiency of the transportation industry.

“With great distances to travel and tight deadlines for truckers, truck stops recognize this fact and cater to it with greater convenience and efficiency,” said a spokesperson for an organization called Integrity Factoring that finds solutions for transportation clients. 

Rothsay is a unique community, with the eastern half located in Otter Tail County and the western section of the community part of Wilkin County. One of Rothsay’s major tourist attractions is the large prairie chicken statue near the northwest side of town.

The community has options and programs for new houses being built and businesses looking to establish roots in Rothsay. There is also assistance for current businesses looking to expand.

Resources include business planning guidance, gap financing, loan options and grants. For more information to a search of

The Rothsay Economic Development Authority has a vision “to embrace our bedroom community and small-town values to create opportunities that benefit and enhance housing, businesses and community well-being.”

Some Rothsay history

Gary Wigdahl, a Rothsay native who graduated from high school in 1960, wrote a book on the history of Rothsay, “Twixt Hill and Prairie,” for the city’s 1983 centennial celebration.

“In 1869 the first settlers began arriving in the Rothsay area,” he said. “A goodly share of these homesteaders had previously spent time in southeastern Minnesota, northeastern Iowa or southwestern Wisconsin before resettling in these parts.”

By the early 1900s, writes Wigdahl in his book, Rothsay could boast of having six general merchandise stores, a physician, livery stables, regular freight and passenger rail service provided by the Great Northern, a weekly newspaper, traveling dentists and hotels.

The Rothsay elevator was built in 1906 with a 50,000 bushel capacity. For 77 years the organization went by the name Farmers Grain and Mercantile Company.

The organization entered into the oil business in 1935 and in 1976 the elevator became part of the anhydrous ammonia business. In 1985 the elevator became an independent company and in 1987, with changes to the articles of incorporation, the business became known as Rothsay Farmers Co-op.

A new elevator was built in Rothsay in 1974. In 1992 the Peavey Elevator in Barnesville was purchased. During the 1980s the Lawndale and Carlisle locations were closed. By 2009 Rothsay Farmers Cooperative focused on grain, agronomy, tire sales and service.

Today Rothsay is a town of close to 500 people. Residents are proud of their public school system and the new school located near Interstate 94. Teachers and staff point to many advantages of a small school that can provide individualized attention and support.

This, according to school administrators and school board members, ensures that each student can explore their passions and reach their full potential.