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The "Hidden" Streets of Decorah--Is it a street or is it an alley?

Posted: Sun, Oct 6, 2019 5:17 PM
The south end of Maiden Lane

(feature story by's Paul Scott):

Montgomery Street.  College Drive.  Water Street.  There are certain streets in Decorah that many of us drive on on a regular basis. But there are also streets in Decorah you might not have heard of, which is why we're writing a series of stories about Decorah's "hidden" streets. 

In several cases, motorists could be forgiven for wondering whether something is a street or an alley.  Take, for instance, Maiden Lane south of Sanford Street.  It's listed as a street on the Beacon map, but it's a gravel street, not a paved street--and it's not a very wide gravel street at that.  So is it an alley or is it a "hidden street?"

Likewise, the one-block Baker Street south of Lawrence Street in Decorah is sort of tucked out of the way.  But as you travel south on Baker Street, the pavement becomes a T and narrows sharply.  Is it still Baker Street?  Or are you now driving on an alley?  Whatever your answer, you'd have to categorize Baker Street as one of Decorah's "hidden streets."

But there's a third street or alley which, in my opinion, is the most unusual "hidden street" in Decorah--a grassy alley near the First Lutheran Church at the end of Grove Street.  You wouldn't even consider it a street--except for the sign at the entrance--"Caution.  Minimum Maintenance Road."  Even though it's highly unlikely this rutted dirt and grass pathway even gets the kind of traffic a normal city street gets, the sign seems to imply this is a road.

It's confusing, isn't it?  Is it an alley or is it a street.  Decorah's "hidden streets" are hard to categorize.

(Have a nomination for one of Decorah's "Hidden Streets?"  E-mail us at

The south end of Baker Street
The sign says, "Caution. Minimum Maintenance Road."