“To find the Deep Valley of the Betsy-Tacy stories in this bustling, modern Mankato is not easy. You must wipe out the changes time has brought and bring back the horse and buggy days.”

Maud Hart Lovelace, 1961

Mankato, Minnesota, is the setting for Maud Hart Lovelace’s Betsy-Tacy books. She appropriately named the fictional town Deep Valley. Imagine growing up in Mankato and seeing it as Maud did. From atop the hill behind her home at 333 Center Street she could look down on the whole town, and at a distance, deep within the valley, she could see the “silver ribbon” of the Minnesota River. Maud and her friends had these hills for a playground.

Maud Palmer Hart was born in Mankato in 1892, when the town was only 40 years old. Growing up in the hills amid the natural beauty of the winding rivers and the woods made strong impressions on her. The sights, sounds and smells of Maud’s childhood in Mankato created lasting memories and stimulated her imagination. “I liked Minneapolis and other places I lived, but I don’t feel about them like I do about Mankato. I love Mankato and I love the people,” Maud said. At the age of 82, when asked what she remembered most about Mankato, she replied, “The hills.”

Excerpts from Maud Hart Lovelace’s Deep Valley by Julie A. Schrader