Carlton’s Hobo Junction combines bike and disc rental with artHobo Junction is a project conceived by Joelene Steffens, a former St. Paul executive who has taken up residence here in the Northland.
Hobo Junction is a project conceived by Joelene Steffens, a former St. Paul executive who has taken up residence here in the Northland. Steffens is the founder/owner of Art Dimensions, a framing business that is re-configuring itself into something of a co-op of artists, from Native American to contemporary to abstract. Next door is the newly renovated Carlton Bike Rental and “Simple” Repair, with everything anyone could want for a bike outing on the adjacent miles of bike trails. Hobo Junction is the moniker that connects these enterprises.
Carlton Bike Rental not only has bikes and discs (for disc golf) for rent, they also have picnic lunches, cold drinks and snacks for hot days, and maps to help you find your way to new destinations by means of a variety of bike trails that converge in the area.
“The Munger Trail, which stretches 63 miles from Duluth to Hinckley, also hooks up to the Alex Laveau Memorial Trail,” Steffens said. “Now we also have the St. Louis River Trail, which joins our property here, and it just made sense.”
Carlton Bike Rental has more than three dozen bikes on hand, including a few infant riders and tagalongs, which make a wonderful attachment for young families. “We also have the infant carriers which can be converted into running strollers,” said Steffens. “Plus, we have bicycles built for two.”
Hobo Junction started as a little retail shop. Steffens ended up purchasing the property next door. As she started doing the history of the property, she realized her businesses were in the middle of two railroad spurs with a ton of history behind them. Carlton has had five railroad lines intersect the community over time.
“Ironically,” Steffens said, “I found out that my grandpa was actually considered a hobo. Most people interpret a hobo as being a bum, but actually hobos were pretty honorable because they were looking for work. My grandpa ended up in a little town and became the chief of police. It’s not something that I promote here as far as jumping trains because that’s illegal. There is something immensely nostalgic, however, about the hobo life.”