Airport of the Month
May 1, 2017
In the spring of 1876, George Armstrong Custer was returning to Fort Abraham Lincoln after meeting with General Alfred Terry at Fort Snelling. He stopped in Hawley, possibly because another officer in the 7th Cavalry Regiment (Marcus Reno) had a cousin supervising railroad construction in the area. Incidentally, "Reno's Camp" was the first of six names the town had between 1871 and 1874. Custer went on to fame and notoriety at the Little Big Horn that sum- mer. Hawley grew into one of the most prosperous towns in northwestern Minnesota.
It was Thomas Hawley Canfield who gave the place its permanent name, most likely making it the only City in Minnesota that uses somebody's middle name. Canfield was a director of the Northern Pacific Railroad, who just happened to be picking names for stations along the line.
None of that has anything to do with aviation, except the Hawley Municipal Airport is a big factor in the town's suc- cess. The Airport was constructed in stag- es beginning in 1971 and ending with its dedication on June 1, 1975. Its 3400 foot- long paved and lighted runway will accommodate most General Aviation air- craft.
There's RNAV/GPS approaches for days when the weather isn't too great, and Precision Approach Path Indicators (PAPI) for visual glide slope guidance. A nice arrival/departure building offers meeting space and flight planning. Aviation gas is available. Fueling is self-service. The airport is popular. Thirty three aircraft are based there.
Hawley also has some interesting avi- ation history. John Wastvedt was born in Hawley. He was drawn to the flying busi- ness by the exploits of Charles Lindberg. John graduated from Hawley High School in 1940 and joined the Marines in 1941. He flew the famous F4U "Corsair" in the Pacific campaigns, including Iwo Jima.
After the War, he earned a degree in Aeronautical Engineering. He spent 30 years with Honeywell. In the 1980's Mr. Wastvedt became well known for his achievements in aerobatics, soaring, and as an FAA Designated Flight Examiner. He was a founding member of the Minnesota Soaring Club at Stanton Airport, and a 2014 inductee of the Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame.
In 2006 a group of local businesses decided Hawley should advertise its high quality of life. The campaign started with the slogan "Hawley would be a great place for you." The slogan eventually morphed into a homophone for "Hollywood," "Hawleywould" and a web site, HawleyWould.com. Among other things, the web site tells you all the advantages of doing business in Hawley.
Maybe the homophone isn't that funny, but it worked. Hawley became even more successful. The place is a model for com- munities in rural America. In 2014 alone the city secured over $11 million in new commercial and industrial development. Not bad for a town with a population of about 2100. Local folks are quick to acknowledge how much of an asset a top quality general airport can be for attract- ing new business and a quality work force.
Hawley's big entertainment event is the annual rodeo that happens early in June. There's a whole week of fun called "Rodeo Fest" that ends with the actual competition. The schedule includes lots of eating events and a kiddie parade. There's often a 5K walk or run, car shows, street fairs, and horseshoe tourna-
Photos courtesy of the City of Hawley
ments. It must be a good time, because the Hawley Rodeo has been held every year since 1959 and is always well attend- ed.
Buffalo Crossing was the second name for Hawley. The town site is where the railroad crosses the Buffalo River. The waterway is a major feature of the local scenery. An eighteen-hole golf course and country club are located along the river. For those who prefer to go for a walk without the frustration of golfing, there are plenty of trails for hiking, or biking if you'd rather ride. The City of Hawley also has 11 public parks. Buffalo River State Park is also nearby.
After Reno's Camp and Buffalo Crossing, the town's next two names were "Muskoday," then, "Bethel." Mr. Canfield got it named Hawley after that, but for some reason, it got changed to "Yeovil," then back to Hawley for keeps. Incidentally, Muskoday is a Native American name, and Yeovil is a town in England.
No matter what it's called, Hawley in the 21st Century is a great place to visit. Business might be the main motivation to fly there, but it could be worth the trip just for the fun of it.