Reprinted from the Tri-County News May 3, 2001.
In 1886, the Soo Line Railroad decided to bypass Maine Prairie in favor of Kimball Prairie, five miles to the south. With the arrival of the railroad, Kimball became a regular passenger and freight stop for the shipping of farm products, buildingh materials and merchandise. The railroad also created local jobs, and Kimball continued to grow. That is what brought Addie Dalton Lutgen to Kimball in 1962, when her late husband Donald Dalton became the Soo Line Depot Agent at Kimball. She has graciously shared here some wonderful photos and memories from those years. She still resides in Kimball, with husband Ben Lutgen.
“When a depot was available for a new agent, they were assigned according to their seniority. A main line assignment was choice (Minneapolis to Winnipeg was a main line with branches off from it). My husband was several years older than me, and at one time I remember he had the most seniority of any agents on the Soo Line.
“The depot agent and his family could live in the depot building free as part of his wages. There was no running water in the Kimball depot. It had two bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen, a small pantry off the kitchen, and a small cellar under the pantry. Other depots we lived in had the living quarters upstairs and were larger than the one in Kimball. The depot itself had an office, waiting room, and a large freight house. On Saturdays (before laundromats) I would wash clothes in the waiting room and put up lines so the clothes could be hung there to dry.
Major Highlights for the Week
Wednesday, Dec. 16, 1863
The Confederate government announced several major command changes. General Joseph E. Johnston was named to command the Army of Tennessee, succeeding Lieutenant General William J. Hardee, who had temporarily taken over for General Braxton Bragg. Lieutenant General Leonidas Polk was left in command of the Army of Mississippi at Brandon, Miss., replacing Johnston, who headed to his new command at Dalton, Ga.
Federal Brigadier General John Buford was promoted to the rank of major general just a few hours before his death in Washington of typhoid fever. Upon the recommendation of Major General George Stoneman, President Lincoln assented to the promotion and wrote, “I am informed that General Buford will not survive the day. It suggests itself to me that he will be made Major General for distinguished and meritorious service at the Battle of Gettysburg.” When informed of the promotion, Buford asked, “Does he mean it?” When told that it was a genuine promotion, Buford replied, “It is too late, now I wish I could live.” He passed away at 2 p.m.
Who doesn’t have fond memories of the Holidays when they were a child?
And as the years pass, those memories become stronger.
Old timers in Watkins remember a Christmas tree being placed in the middle of the downtown during the Holiday season to brighten everyone’s spirit.
Bill May, the proprietor of May Theatre, would make sure that the children always had a bag of candy and a Christmas movie to watch. And, for outdoor fun, a parking lot would be flooded and iced over to provide for figure skating and ice hockey fun.
Bill May’s generosity in Watkins is legendary.
“We believed that he financed many of the activities and gratuities available to young people,” remembered the late Eugene McCarthy, who grew up in Watkins and would later become a U.S. Senator and presidential candidate. “He was a Santa Claus to the town of Watkins.”
The Kimball City Hall, originally Kimball Prairie Village Hall, was named by the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota (PAM) as one of 18 successfully revitalized civic landmarks in the state. Eighteen sites are representative of a wide range of historic projects completed in Minnesota.
Preservation or demolition of historic sites and landmarks pose difficult decisions for communities. According to the PAM brochure, “Choosing rehabilitation instead of demolition will provide long-term rewards for communities and benefit all Minnesotans through our strengthened Civic Legacy.”
An exhibit of banners depicting each of the 18 sites will be provided by the Preservation Alliance to display in the year ahead. In an ambitious project spanning seven years and six phases, the 1908 original Kimball Prairie Village Hall and Kimball City Hall is the only City Hall in Stearns County on the National Register of Historic Places still in full use as a City Hall.
A documentary examining the U.S.-Dakota War will air statewide on public TV starting Dec. 26.
The two-hour production is entitled, “The Past Is Alive Within Us: The U.S.-Dakota Conflict.” It was created through legislation Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Acton Township, authored as chairman of the House Legacy Division in 2011.
“The program combines historical information and contemporary stories,” Urdahl said. “The goals are to provide a better understanding of the events which took place, explain how Minnesotans are still impacted today and to spur critical thinking. Footage from a ceremony at Ness Church in rural Litchfield is included.”
Twin Cities Public Television – Channel 2 in most cases – will first air the film 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 26, with repeat showings also available. Check local listings or visit www.tpt.org, for more information.