The Almelund Creamery

The first cooperative creamery opened in Almelund in 1896 and quickly gained a reputation for producing high-quality products. One of the co-op organizers was  T.H. Haecker, a professor of dairying at the University of Minnesota and staunch advocate for farmer-owned cooperative creameries. In 1897, co-op member Emil Blomquist became state butter-making champion with a perfect score. He would go on to compete nationally and act as Vice President of the Eastern Minnesota Butter and Cheesemakers’ Association. 

Sparks from a chimney started a fire in the creamery in 1919. The blaze spread quickly throughout the wood-frame building. Children watched from the windows of the nearby schoolhouse as townspeople tried in vain to put out the fire and save equipment from the creamery.

First Almelund creamery

First Almelund creamery

brick creamery in 2018

brick creamery in 2018

A larger, brick building was built the same year to replace the burned creamery and production resumed. The co-op was the first in the state to sign a marketing agreement to manufacture sweet cream butter for Land O’ Lakes. It was also the first creamery in Minnesota to enroll employees in a volunteer group insurance plan.

A second co-op member, Bob Anderson, became the state butter-making champion in 1950 with a perfect score. During the Cold War, the roof of the creamery was used as a Civil Defense Aircraft Spotter Station.

2018

2018

While other creameries went out of business in the 1970s, the Almelund prospered. It did more than $3 million in business in 1975 alone. The decline in business came in the 1980s and 1990s for the Almelund creamery and the building was eventually abandoned. As I write this, the property the ruins of the creamery stand on is for sale for $130,000. The future of the building is uncertain. 

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