Posts in Southern Minnesota
Who the Heck Was Johan Hvoslef?

Johan Hvoslef was born in Norway in 1839. After graduating from the University of Norway, he came to the United States and settled in Chicago to attend Rush Medical College in 1872. After graduating, he moved to Lanesboro and started a medical practice there in 1876. In his free time, Hvoslef became an avid naturalist and keen ornithologist who spent hours in the woods and fields around Lanesboro recording observations in

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The Adolph Biermann House in Rochester

The Adolph Biermann house in Rochester is the oldest documented structure in the Mayowood Historic District and one of the oldest in Olmsted County. The property was settled in 1854 and the house was built in the mid-1860s by John Harmon, a farmer from New York who moved west to acquire a large tract of land where he planned to grow wheat. His venture was unsuccessful and

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Daniel Piper House in Medford

Daniel Piper came to Minnesota from New Hampshire with his wife and daughter in early 1877. Although he had been a successful lumberman out east, he decided to try his hand at farming in Minnesota. He purchased a tract of farmland near Medford and began building his New England style farmstead in 1877.

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The Ruins of the Archibald Mill

The Archibald mill is located on the banks of the Cannon River in Dundas. Brothers John S. and Edward T. Archibald came to Hastings in 1856 from Ontario, Canada. John worked at the Ramsey Mill for a short time, while Edward operated a real estate business. After witnessing the success of the Ramsey Mill, the brothers decided to strike out on their own and operate their own mill.

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The Church of the Holy Cross

The Church of the Holy Cross in Dundas is a Gothic-style church built in 1868. John S. Archibald of the prominent Archibald milling family was the driving force behind the formation of the Episcopal congregation and construction of the church. The church was constructed across the street from his brother Edward Archibald’s home. Edward lived in the Greek Revival-style home with his wife and two sons

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The Geldner Sawmill in Cleveland

The Geldner Sawmill stands on a narrow strip of land that separates Lake Jefferson and German Lake near Cleveland. It was constructed nearby in the 1860s and moved to its present location around 1876. The sawmill operated until 1973, helping to carve farmland out of the Big Woods that were once rife with elm, basswood, sugar , and red oak.

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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 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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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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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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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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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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Enter Marlon Brando

Founded in 1858, Shattuck Military Academy in Faribault was one of the oldest and most respected college preparatory boarding schools in the Midwest. Shattuck was known for its rigid military discipline, strong academics, and was used to dealing with students who had been expelled from other schools. Enter Marlon Brando. After

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Oxford Mill Ruin

The Oxford Mill was located on the bank of the Little Cannon River near Cannon Falls. When the mill was built by C.N. Wilcox and John and Edward Archibald in 1878, it was part of the wheat boom sweeping through the state. Annual record yields of wheat generated the need to process the harvests, causing flour mills to spring up along

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EACO Flour Mill Fire in Waseca

This photo from 1900 shows Loon Lake and the town of Waseca in the distance. On the left are the newly reconstructed buildings of the Everett, Aughenbaugh and Company (EACO) flour mill. The original EACO mill burned to the ground in 1896. Here is a historical account of the events of August 25, 1896: At about twenty minutes after

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