The middle of summer and road construction season can be found everywhere. We like to complain about the bottlenecks and traffic jams that these projects cause, but we would not complain so much if we remembered how road conditions used to be.
It was only 101 years ago that construction began on Minnesota Highway 55 that would connect the Kimball, Watkins and Eden Valley area to the Twin Cities.
In 1912, the road was yet unnamed and known only as the state road that ran along the Soo Line. Following is a short story that ran in the Oct. 10, 1912, issue of the Eden Valley Journal:
Major Highlights for the Week
Wednesday, July 15, 1863
The New York Draft Riots, now in their third day, were becoming less violent.
Skirmishing broke out at Halltown and Sherpherdstown, W.V.,
as Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia slowly moved south down the Shenandoah Valley, where it remained for most of the month.
Other fighting broke out at Jackson, Miss.; along Forked Deer River and at Pulaski, Tenn.
Laurina and Anders Olson (Mrs. Crosby’s grandparents) left Norway in 1846. After 16 weeks on the Atlantic, they arrived in America. They lived for some time in Wisconsin. In 1858 they decided to venture into Minnesota and arrived and settled in Meeker County, and what is now known as Acton township. They lived on the farm now owned [in 1975] by Arthur Olson.
The Anders Olsons learned of the massacre at Acton from Mrs. Jones, one of the survivors and wife of one of the five white people killed by the Indians. Mrs. Jones had walked over six miles to the Olsons (who had a blacksmith shop) to spread the news of the killings and to warn the other early settlers about the Indians.
The Great Depression was a time of unemployment and hardship. In Stearns County, the responsibility and duty for caring for victims of the Depression was accepted by the community. A coordinated effort by community groups, service clubs, and the city government led the way. The Chamber of Commerce coordinated work projects within the community. The mayor proposed a “Make Work Program,” which provided employment, not charity, for 400 men with families to support.
Major Highlights for the Week Wednesday July 8, 1863
News of the surrender of Vicksburg slowly spread south to Port Hudson, La., and the last Confederate garrison on the Mississippi River. Brigadier General Franklin Gardner asked Federal Major General Nathaniel P. Banks for terms, and surrendered unconditionally. After six weeks, it was doubtful if Gardner could have held out much longer. About 7,000 prisoners were taken by Banks 33,000 soldiers, although the figures may be contradictory. However, the result of the action was that Union vessels could move the entire length of the Mississippi River, molested only by the occasional guerrilla attack.
In the final stages of the Gettysburg Campaign, fighting broke out in Boonsborough and Williamsport, Md.
Thursday July 9, 1863
At Port Hudson, La., on the eastern short of the Mississippi River, Confederate Brigadier General Franklin Gardner formally surrendered to Federal Major General Nathaniel P. Banks.
The retreat from Gettysburg continued with a skirmish at Beaver Creek, Md.
At Charleston, the mayor warned the people of South Carolina that the Federals were preparing to attack Morris Island.
Friday July 10, 1863
Federal troops landed on the south end of Morris Island, near Charleston, S.C. Their objective was Fort Wagner, one of the main defenses of Charleston Harbor. It marked the first action in a siege that was to last until September. The Federals prepared for an assault on Wagner, hoping that a decisive victory there could be combined with naval operations that would secure Charleston itself.
As General Robert E. Lee gathered his retreating forces at the Potomac River near Williamsport, Md., action increased as Federal Major General George G. Meade’s forces followed more energetically. Skirmishing occurred near Hagerstown, Jones’s Crossroads, Funkstown, Old Antietam Forge and Clear Spring, Md. Heavier action occurred at Falling Waters, Md.
Distressed over Gettysburg, Middle Tennessee, Vicksburg, Port Hudson, Jackson, and now Charleston, Confederate President Jefferson Davis wrote to South Carolina Governor M.L. Bonham requesting local defense troops be immediately dispatched to Charleston.
Saturday July 11, 1863
Federal troops of Brigadier General Quincy A. Gillmore made a futile assault on Fort Wagner on Morris Island in Charleston Harbor. Federals gained the parapet of the strong fortification but were forced to withdraw under heavy fire.
President Abraham Lincoln appeared to be more satisfied with the operations of Major General George G. Meade’s Army of the Potomac against the withdrawing Confederates. He still hoped that his general would attack.
Sunday July 12, 1863
Just north of the Potomac in the Williamsport, Md., area, the last act of the Gettysburg Campaign was about to commence as Major General George G. Meade’s Army of the Potomac was preparing to attack General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, which was defending its position with its back towards the river, similar to Antietam battle the previous year. President Abraham Lincoln learned of Meade’s attack plans, but feared that it was too late to cripple or destroy the Confederate army. Lee believed that if the river would subside, he would be able to cross the next day.
Monday July 13, 1863
In Maryland, General Robert E.
Lee pulled out of his defensive positions north of the Potomac River, and during the night, crossed the river to safety in Virginia. The Army of Northern Virginia was resting on a bend in the river and covered Williamsport and Falling Waters. Now with pontoon trains and a fordable river, Lee made his escape ten days after the conclusion of the Battle of Gettysburg. Federal Major General George G. Meade’s Army of the Potomac had moved up cautiously and now was in front of Lee, reconnoitering for an opening and planning an attack for the next day.
After the drawing of lots began, two days after the first names of the new Federal draft had been drawn in New York City, a mob consisting of a large number of foreign laborers gathered, stormed the draft headquarters, raided residences and looted businesses. A full-scale riot ensued. Fires broke out in parts of the city and a Negro church and orphanage were burned. Hundreds were killed and wounded while property losses were estimated around $1.5 million.
Tuesday July 14, 1863
The mob continued its destruction as the New York City draft riots continued for a second day.
Minor skirmishing occurred at Falling Waters and Harper’s Ferry, W.V.; Williamsport, Md.; Elk River Bridge, Tenn.; Iuka, Miss.; and Camp Dennison near Cincinnati, Ohio.
Major General W.H.C. Whiting was named commander of the Confederate Department of North Carolina.
Where Minnesota Regiments were the week of July 8-14, 1863
1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – In pursuit of General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia to Manassas Gap, Va., until July 24, 1863.
2nd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Winchester, Tenn., until Aug. 16, 1863.
3rd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Oak Ridge, Miss., near Vicksburg until July 24, 1863.
4th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On garrison duty at Vicksburg, Miss., until Sept. 12, 1863.
5th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On guard duty at Black River Bridge, Miss., until July 22, 1863.
6th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Participated in Brigadier General Henry H. Sibley’s expedition in Dakota Territory until Sept. 12, 1863.
7th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Participated in Brigadier General Henry H. Sibley’s expedition in Dakota Territory until Sept. 12, 1863.
8th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Marched to Fort Ridgely for duty until June 5, 1864.
9th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Participated in Brigadier General Henry H. Sibley’s expedition in Dakota Territory until Sept. 12, 1863.
10th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Participated in Brigadier General Henry H. Sibley’s expedition in Dakota Territory until Sept. 12, 1863.
1st Regiment Minnesota Cavalry “Mounted Rangers” – Participated in Brigadier General Henry H. Sibley’s expedition in Dakota Territory until Sept. 12, 1863.
Brackett’s Battalion of Minnesota Cavalry – Participated in the Occupation of Middle Tenn., until Sept. 6, 1863.
1st Minnesota Light Artillery Battery – On duty at Vicksburg, Miss., until April 4, 1864.
2nd Independent Battery, Minnesota Light Artillery – Participated in the Occupation of Middle Tennessee until Aug. 16, 1863.
3rd Battery, Minnesota Light Artillery - Participated in Brigadier General Henry H. Sibley’s expedition in Dakota Territory until Sept. 12, 1863.
2nd United States Sharpshooters, Company A – In pursuit of General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia to Manassas Gap, Va., until July 24, 1863