Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
This information is by Alton Chermak of St. Cloud.
I have been researching the construction and early history of the Minneapolis and Pacific (M & P) Railway during 1886-1888, and in so doing, have become familiar with the development of many of the communities along the route.
This line was part of a rail transportation system built by Minneapolis milling interests, becoming the Minneapolis, St. Paul and Sault Ste. Marie Railway (better known by its nickname, the "Soo Line") in 1888.
The drawing of the Kimball Prairie depot included here is the second depot structure; it measured 20 feet in width and 80 feet in length.
This building replaced the original depot, which was destroyed by fire in 1901, and remained in service until it was torn down in 1974. Although the post office apparently was known simply as Kimball, the Soo Line continued to use the Kimball Prairie name for the station until September 1919. It is my understanding that the village was legally named Kimball Prairie until 1990.
The M & P was organized and constructed with the commercial purpose of securing wheat for the milling industry in Minneapolis. It was feared that Duluth would become the major milling and shipping center and, as a consequence, a number of prominent Minneapolis industrialists (including Pillsbury and Washburn) undertook this enterprise.
The section of railroad through Kimball Prairie was constructed in 1886, and the railroad established a few facilities. The original depot measured 20 feet by 48 feet and was probably not completed until January 1887. Mr. C.E. Bersee may have been the first agent. The section crew (consisting of a foreman and two laborers) were likely stationed on the east bank of Clearwater River for a period until they were relocated to Kimball Prairie. A gravel pit was also located on the east bank, and the gravel from this pit (and others) was used to ballast the tracks in this area.
The Minneapolis & Pacific also constructed in 1886 a 12,000-bushel capacity flat warehouse for the handling of grain. This was a railroad-owned and operated facility, and Mr. Bersee devoted some of his time as elevator agent. Later the railroad organized its grain-handling facilities under the name Atlantic Elevator Company. The Annandale newspaper reported that this facility was torn down in 1897 and a new elevator constructed under the name of Atlantic Elevator.
There was a second flat warehouse constructed in 1886. This was a 10,000-bushel structure that was privately owned, according to the Minneapolis Tribune. This was a Cofield & McDonald structure, but the M & P reported to the state railroad commissioner that it was owned by Osborne & McMillan. Photographs of this style of grain warehouse are rare. A Soo Line drawing made in 1919 indicates that the grain elevator located to the east of the Central Lumber Co. building was owned by the Farmers' Cooperative Equity Elevator Co. William D. Washburn was president of the Minneapolis & Pacific Railway and was not only a central figure in the construction of the railroad, but also the development of communities along he line. His family started the Washburn-Crosby Company, which later became General Mills (WCCO rado/TV stations trace their letters to Washburn-Crosby Co.) He also owned sawmills and a few Washburn Lumber Company yards appeared along the line. Moreover, he acquired a fair amount of real estate and was actively involved in platting the new town sites, including that of Kimball Prairie. He later became a United States Senator.
Rounding out the railroad facilities was the stockyard. The shipment of cattle to market was important to farmers, and the first stock chute and pens were probably located near the grain warehouses. In 1897, the pens were relocated to the west end of the house track.
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It's finally here ... our "Kickoff celebration" of Kimball's founding, featuring the one and only Minneapolis, St. Paul and Sault Ste. Marie Railway (better known by its nickname, the "Soo Line") in 1886-1888. The Minnesota flour milling industry made it possible for many communities to be developed along the route, including our very own Kimball! That's why we can now celebrate Kimball's 125th birthday during 2011. This barely scratches the surface of what Mr. Chermak will share on the popular topic of "Railroads." Come and hear for yourself how we now exist, because of this amazing choice of town site known as Kimball. It's free, it's comfortable, held at Kimball's historic City Hall on Main Street, complete with refreshments. It's at 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 28. Bring a friend or two.
Saturday, June 25, will find our Kimball outdoor history booth at the annual "Old Settlers' Picnic" festival in Fair Haven, beginning at 9 a.m. with a parade. We look forward to seeing you there as our Kimball historians continue Kimball's 125th celebration.
Kimball Area Historical Society began in 2000, and has never increased membership dues, which explains our continued growth. But, we want to welcome you too, so feel free to join our friendly group as we feature fantastic events like the ones mentioned above. Need more information? Contact us at Box 100, Kimball MN 55353, or phone (320) 398-5250, or e-mail
. We are now online at kimballhistory.org.