Almond White and the Motley Castle

Vermont-native Almond A. White came to Minnesota after the Civil War and settled in Brainerd for a short time before moving to Moorhead in the early 1870s. White and business partner Solomon Comstock founded a real estate business that would grow into one of the largest real estate firms in the great northwest. On the day of his graduation in 1864

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Lost Highway 61

History buffs and curiosity seekers revel in finding a piece of the past. Stumbling across something long forgotten is an excellent way to travel back in time, even if it’s only for a few moments. Thanks to the internet, the stumbling has become easier. In the summer of 2013, Google maps helped me stumble across an abandoned section of Highway 61—one of

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Florence Town Hall

Florence Town Hall is located along Highway 61 in Frontenac Station. The land to build the town hall was donated by Israel Garrard--a wealthy sportsman who established nearby Frontenac--in 1875. An addition to the tiny hall was added in 1916 that included a stage, dressing rooms, and an indoor bathroom. Tourism brought both performers and an

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Roscoe Butter and Cheese Factory

By the end of the 19th century, dairy was quickly out-pacing wheat as the top agricultural commodity in the southeastern part of the state. Small but efficient factories began dotting the countryside to process the milk into butter and cheese. By the end of the 1930s, there were 19 creameries and 17 cheese factories located throughout Goodhue County alone.

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The Dudley Mansion in Duluth

Most of us wouldn’t consider a 13,000 square foot mansion situated on a six-acre wooded lot with more than 400-feet of Lake Superior shoreline anything less than the very finest. But having a majestic estate like Glensheen for a neighbor is tough! When Harry and Marjorie Dudley built their home, they chose not to compete with their (very familiar) neighbors to

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The New Ulm Company Service Station

Built in 1926, the New Ulm Company Service Station is the best remaining example in a series of whimsical stations designed by George Saffert of the Saffert Construction Company during the 1920s. Each station was custom-designed for its location for independent oil companies. Saffert-designed stations often used strong yet fanciful

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Spencer Brook: Nearly a Ghost Town

Settled in 1854 by Pennsylvania native Benjamin Spencer, Spencer Brook was one of the first communities in Isanti County. During the 1850s, Spencer Brook became a favorite spot for east coast Yankees seeking lumbering opportunities. The nearby Rum River provided the flowing waters needed to float logs downstream to the Twin Cities.

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District 6 School in New Sweden

The District 6 school in New Sweden Township stands in a field surrounded by tall stalks of corn in the summer and drifts of white snow in the winter. This pretty, white clapboard building with a porch and full basement was constructed in 1929. It is the third school to stand on this site—the first was built in the 1860s and the second in 1891.

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The Pine Tree Lumber Company

Pine Tree Lumber Company was established in Little Falls in 1890. Located on the banks of the Mississippi River in central Minnesota, the company was run by Charles Weyerhaeuser and Richard “Drew” Musser. Little Falls was chosen as the location for this new mill because of its proximity to the Mississippi River. The dam created a large boom area where

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Tivoli Gardens in New Ulm

In 1872, Joseph Schmucker took over operation of Friton Brewery, which was the first brewery to operate in New Ulm starting in the 1850s. Operating under a new business name, Schmucker Brewery, Schmucker built Tivoli Gardens in 1885. Located adjacent to the brewery, Tivoli Gardens operated as a bar that served products from the brewery with a dance

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West Riverside School Near Cambridge

Built in 1898, the West Riverside School was originally known as District #38 School. Isanti County once had 67 rural schools similar to this. Aside from teaching children, one of the important roles of rural schools was to teach immigrants the English language and prepare them for the American citizenship exam. Most were also an important community

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Swenson’s General Store in Norseland

Around the turn of the twentieth century, Nicollet County had eight rural crossroads hamlets. While all of the other small towns have removed many of the structures that marked their existence, Norseland has held onto their identity by recognizing the importance of their general store. In 1858—the same year that Minnesota became a state—Irish

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District #28 School in Ramsey

The District #28 School was constructed in Ramsey in 1892 to replace a smaller, wood frame school house. Buff-colored bricks manufactured by the nearby Kelsey Brickyard cover the exterior of the school. Inside, one large classroom dominates the space. It has a pressed metal ceiling and chalkboards covering the walls. All windows and the original

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The Fire Relief Houses of Pine County

After a devastating forest fire obliterated the villages of Finlayson, Hinckley, Miller, Mission Creek, Pokegama, and Sandstone in Pine County on the afternoon of September 1, 1894, the state put forward an unprecedented humanitarian effort to attend to the needs of survivors. Hundreds of people were left homeless and without

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The End of the Line in Currie

In 1899, the Des Moines Valley Railway Company began work on a plan to extend their rail line in western Minnesota an additional 38.63 miles northwest from Bingham Lake to Currie. Nearly 14 miles of track was laid and put into operation that year. The remaining 24.73 miles of rail between Jeffers and Currie was finished the

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