Following the Rails of North Dakota

The Dakota Territory was settled sparsely until the late 19th century, when the railroads entered the region and vigorously marketed the land. 

USTerritories

According to Wikipedia:

“The success of the Northern Pacific Railroad and the Great Northern Railroad was based on the abundant crops and rapidly increasing settlement in the Red River Valley along the Minnesota border between 1871 and 1890.”

“The railroad was the engine of settlement for the state. The Northern Pacific Railroad was given land grants by the federal government so that it could borrow money to build its system.  The federal government kept every other section of land and gave it away to homesteaders. Meanwhile, the Great Northern Railroad energetically promoted settlement along its lines in the northern portion of the state.  The Great Northern Railroad bought its lands from the federal government, as it received no land grants, and resold the land to farmers one by one. It operated agencies in Germany and Scandinavia that promoted its lands and brought families over at low cost.”

“The battle between The Great northern Railway and Soo line Railroad to control access across northern North Dakota resulted in 500 miles of new track and more than 50 new town sites just in one year.  Many of the towns sites were never settled and were abandoned”

Towns began to dot the countryside as growth followed the rails.  As the population of North Dakota declined, the buildings were left under the care of Mother Nature.  Follow the old railway lines and you may just find yourself in the presence of a ghost town yourself.  Many of these abandoned towns and the land that these debilitated buildings reside on, are now privately owned.  Stories of the old inhabitants that once lived in these homes or worked in the buildings flowed though my mind as we drove through the empty streets.

The back roads of North Dakota were unlike any other that we have encountered.  Some roads would end in a marshland full of migrating birds others would just end…  Road Closed.

Advertisements

The grinding continues… Schech’s Mill 2012

grist•mill (ˈgrɪstˌmɪl)
a mill, esp one equipped with large grinding stones for grinding grain.

This is one of the most memorable trips to date; a day of fun and adventure for us all.  Both of these mills were absolutely gorgeous and to see them work like how they did over 100 years ago was mind-blowing.

As we pulled up onto the property of Schech’s Mill, we were struck by the beauty of the buildings and scenery surrounding it.  Edward came out to greet us with his welcoming demeanor and ushered us inside the old mill.   He gave us a tour of the facility, showed us how the equipment worked and shared its amazing history.  Power for the mill came from three Leffel turbines and one Sampson turbine. The equipment included four run of 22” Diamond buhrstones, a roller mill, crusher, sheller, bolters, and related elevators.  Again, the powerful force that sent the machinery into motion caused a rumbling of the building was felt deep in our bones. What an honor to be able to step inside and see exactly how the gristmill worked its magic.  Most of the original equipment is still in use including the original millstone imported from France.  A lot of history to grasp, certainly not enough for one trip; Dan and I will be planning to return in the near future.  I recently used all of the Corn Meal on delicous homemade Corn Bread but I still have the wheat flour made from this mill today.  Tasty, tasty, tasty!!  With appreciation, I thank you Edward, for sharing a little part of history with us on that day.

Schech’s Mill History:

In 1876, John Blinn built a mill in one of the beautiful valleys of southeastern Minnesota. An article in an 1887 mill paper brought the mill to the attention of Michael Schech, a master miller who had immigrated from Bavaria and was employed at one of the large mills in Minneapolis. Schech purchased the mill which was operated by Schech’s brother until 1890 when Michael Schech relocated their family to their Beaver Creek Valley home in Houston County. The mill became known as Schech’s Mill.

When Michael retired in 1913, Edward took over the operation. In 1922, a concrete dam replaced the old wooden one and two years later a concrete water wheel pit was constructed. After Edward’s death in 1941, his wife continued operating the mill for the next five years.

In 1946, Edward’s daughter, Eleanor, and her husband Ivan took over all mill operations. Eleanor and Ivan’s son Edward began helping with operations in 1960. “Every September their son Edward would come over and help clean the mud from the turbine pit”, said Ivan.

Since Eleanor and Ivan’s death Edward and his wife Joanie have run the mill. Schech’s Mill was nominated for the National Registry of Historic Places in 1977. At that time it was the only mill in the state to contain unchanged, operable milling equipment and to have its original stone. It is one of only three mills in the state to operate solely on water power

Proprietor:      Edward Krugmire Call to schedule tour: 507-896-3481or 651-245-5566

Calendar:
OPEN:  May 1st – October 31, 2012   (closed Sept 22  & 23)
Friday    1:00pm – 6:00pm
Saturday 8:00am – 6:00pm
Sunday   8:00am – 6:00pm

Cost:   
Ages 6 – 15 $1.00
Over 15- $5.00
Under 6 free

Samples:                Whole Wheat Flour & Corn Meal