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The Oldest Home in Moorhead

The Oldest Home in Moorhead

To be clear, the Bergquist Cabin is described by the Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County as the oldest home in Moorhead still on its original site. (There is another cabin, built in 1860, which has been moved a number of times, even disassembled and put in storage at one time, which now stands in Memorial Park at the Hjemkomst Center) At any rate, it’s fascinating to stand before this little, one-room log shack and imagine what it must have been like to live here.

Swedish immigrant John Bergquist was a man with perfect timing. He emigrated to America and began construction on this cabin in February of 1871. Minnesota had only been a state for 13 years at that time, and the Red River boundary with the still-wild Dakota Territory was just a quarter mile to the west, but the region was about to boom. Just a few months after Bergquist completed this cabin, the Northern Pacific Railroad arrived and began construction on the first railroad bridge to span the Red River, just a few miles to the south.

Bergquist Cabin

Fargo and Moorhead boomed after the construction of the bridge, and John Bergquist saw an opportunity. He started a brickyard using clay gathered from a site nearby, and many of John Bergquist’s bricks were used to build the early structures in Moorhead.

Bergquist lived in this cabin until 1884, when he sold the site. Over the decades, three more families lived in this cabin — the Houcks, the Petersons, and the Shambergers. With each successive family, this cabin was expanded until it was quite literally a log room inside a house which had been built around it. The Shamberger family moved out in 1967 and the house sat abandoned until the Bergquist family launched an effort to restore it in the late-70s.

Bergquist Cabin

The additions to the cabin were torn down, the logs were numbered, then the cabin was disassembled, restored, and reassembled on its original site. Judging by the information I’ve seen on the HCSCC website, the Bergquist Cabin is open once or twice a year for visitors to see the inside, but anyone can go see this cabin from the outside at any time. It’s in a little park, not far from the river, at 1008 7th Street North.

Bergquist Cabin

This is one of those places where you stumble across it by accident, then you feel dumb not knowing about it for so long. I was on my way to pick up dinner with my son when I took a wrong turn in north Moorhead and just happened to drive right by this place. It’s just down the street from the home where I’ve lived for over a decade, and I never knew about it.

Bergquist Cabin

Are these original John Bergquist bricks?

Bergquist Cabin

There are several information panels on site.

Bergquist Cabin

Photos by Troy Larson, copyright © 2017 Sonic Tremor Media

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Aged and Rusting: War Memorial Bridge

Aged and Rusting: War Memorial Bridge

This is War Memorial Bridge, sometimes known as Climax Bridge due to its proximity to Climax, Minnesota. The bridge’s official designation is MNDot Bridge #7097. War Memorial Bridge spans the Red River on Minnesota’s western border, between Polk County, Minnesota, and Traill County, North Dakota.

War Memorial Bridge

War Memorial Bridge was built in 1957 and it is considered a significant historical bridge by the state of Minnesota, due in part to its unique construction. As described by MNDOT’s historic bridges page:

The bridge was designed to accommodate shifting Red River of the North soils through previously established engineering techniques such as the use of long approach spans, rocker bents, long finger expansion joints, and swivel hinges. It is significant for its truss design and exemplifying the cooperation between North Dakota and Minnesota highway departments to improve connections between the two states.

Read MNDOT’s PDF report on War Memorial Bridge.

War Memorial Bridge

I decided to photograph this bridge along with several others for a potential future book about bridges. These steel truss bridges are disappearing all the time, to be replaced with highly-functional but comparatively boring modern highway bridges. Another bridge just a few miles to the south, Nielsville Bridge, built in 1939, is a good example. It is closed due to its deteriorating condition, but a grant for a new bridge was denied in 2016, leaving its fate undetermined. I think it’s best to photograph these places before they’re gone.

War Memorial Bridge

War Memorial Bridge

Above: Looking over the Red River of the North from the roadway.

War Memorial Bridge
Image / Google Earth

Above: War Memorial Bridge is directly west of Climax, Minnesota, or about 15 minutes southwest of Crookston. What do you know about War Memorial Bridge? Please leave a comment.

Photos by Troy Larson, copyright © 2017 Sonic Tremor Media

Bagley Lost Highway

Bagley Lost Highway

There’s an abandoned stretch of road sandwiched between US Highway 2 and Airport Drive on the outskirts of Bagley, Minnesota. A visitor to this website suggested this place to us after seeing our post on the lost highway in what was once McHugh, Minnesota, near Detroit Lakes.

Bagley Lost Highway
Image/Google Earth

Based on the map, it looks like US Highway 2 was realigned at some point, leaving this stretch of highway abandoned. If someone knows the details, please leave a comment.

Bagley Lost Highway

Bagley Lost Highway

This abandoned road stretches about six-tenths of a mile and parallels the railroad line.

Bagley Lost Highway

In North Dakota, we photographed another lost highway, created by a man-made flood.

Bagley Lost Highway

Photos by Troy Larson, copyright Sonic Tremor Media

Colors of Autumn in Tamarac

Colors of Autumn in Tamarac

Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge lies just north of Rochert, Minnesota, about twenty minutes northeast of Detroit Lakes. The US Fish & Wildlife website describes Tamarac like this:

“Tamarac lies in the heart of one of the most diverse transition zones in North America. Here Eastern deciduous hardwoods, Northern coniferous forests and Western tall grass prairie converge, creating a rich assemblage of both plants and animals. Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge was established as a refuge and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife by Executive Order 7902, dated May 31, 1938.”

I went out looking for some fall colors on the roadside and found more than enough here. These photos were taken in the second week of October, 2015, on the hiking trail known as Old Indian Trail.

Old Indian Trail, Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge

Old Indian Trail, Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge

The inscription on the monument reads:

“This trail was used by early settlers and Indians to reach the maple sugar and wild rice campsite located at the north end of Tamarac Lake. It extended east to the Ottertail River and then brached to the south and north the south branch followed along the west side of the Ottertail to the centuries old Indian crossing and campground at the outlet of Rice Lake now known as Mitchell Dam. The north branch followed along the Ottertail River to the outlet of round lake. Five miles north of this location the heavily used Yellowhead Indian trail joined the Ottertail. Look for this trail at the marker near the ancient Sioux burial ground.”

“Most of the maple forests in the vicinity of Tamarac Lake were used by the indians until the 1930’s. The trees were gashed into the sapwood and the maple sap was collected in birchbark containers placed at the base of the trees look for swollen bases on the larger maple trees along the trail the clearing to the north of this marker is the original family settler clearing of Mr. Ole Dahl who occupied the site in 1905.”

Old Indian Trail, Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge

Old Indian Trail, Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge

I walked about half-way up the trail with my family and we encountered a dozen other hiking parties and photographers. This is a popular place in the fall.

Old Indian Trail, Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge

Old Indian Trail, Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge

Old Indian Trail, Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge

Old Indian Trail, Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge

Old Indian Trail, Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge

Photos by Troy Larson, copyright Sonic Tremor Media

Phelps Mill

Phelps Mill

This is Phelps Mill, in Ottertail County, about fourteen miles northeast of Fergus Falls, Minnesota. It was originally known as Maine Roller Mills.

Phelps Mill, Minnesota

This mill began operations in 1889 and prospered as a flour mill in the age of hyrdopower that predated steam, gas, and electric mills. The plaque on-site says it closed for good in 1939. The sign shown below says 1931.

Ottertail County bought the site in 1965, and ten years later it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Phelps Mill, Minnesota

We drove up to the mill one weekend afternoon and I was surprised to see the mill standing with the door wide open, welcoming travelers who were passing through. There is also a really nice little riverside park here, perfect for a picnic.

Phelps Mill, Minnesota

 

This place has it’s own arts and crafts festival every year in July.

Phelps Mill, Minnesota

The restoration and development referenced in the sign above is largely credited to a campaign by local activist Geneva Tweten, referenced on the plaque below.

Phelps Mill, Minnesota

Phelps Mill, Minnesota

The mill is open to the public and pretty well-trafficked on a beautiful day like this. We saw twenty or more vehicles come through while we were there, which is pretty impressive considering the remoteness of the site. I also discovered my cellphone was reception was less-than-total.

Phelps Mill, Minnesota

Phelps Mill, Minnesota

The fall colors were just starting to show.

Phelps Mill, Minnesota

Phelps Mill, Minnesota

The Ottertail River is gorgeous from above.

Phelps Mill, Minnesota

This window was covered in flies, and for just a moment I had an Amityville flashback.

Phelps Mill, Minnesota

Phelps Mill, Minnesota

Phelps Mill, Minnesota

Phelps Mill, Minnesota

Photos by Troy Larson, copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC

St. Pauli Lutheran Church

St. Pauli Lutheran Church

This is St. Pauli Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church in Almond Township, Big Stone County, just a short drive north of Ortonville on US Highway 75.

As I understand the explanation on this page, I think this church was built in 1896 after a split within the Norwegian Lutheran community created two new congregations with separate churches.

St. Pauli Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church

St. Pauli Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church

The grounds of this church and cemetery are in remarkable condition.  It’s clear there are some people who really take pride in this place.

St. Pauli Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church

St. Pauli Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church

St. Pauli Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church

Photos by Troy Larson, copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC

Headwaters of the Mississippi River

Headwaters of the Mississippi River

Within the borders of Lake Itasca State Park, about twenty miles southwest of Bemidji, Minnesota, flow the headwaters of the Mississippi River.  The source of the Mississippi River was discovered in 1832, when Ojibwe Chief Ozawindib guided Henry Rowe Schoolcraft to the lake.

Headwaters of the Mississippi River

Headwaters of the Mississippi River

On the left is Lake Itasca.  On the right, the Mississippi River.  It’s about three feet deep at the deepest spot, and a lot of fun to wade across.

Headwaters of the Mississippi River

Headwaters of the Mississippi River

You’d never suspect this is North America’s mighty Mississippi River.

Headwaters of the Mississippi River

Headwaters of the Mississippi River

Headwaters of the Mississippi River

After we left the headwaters, we got lunch at the Headwaters Cafe (more of a snack bar, really) and headed off down the park drive to check out the old fire watch tower.  It’s about a fifteen minute drive.

Aiton Heights Fire Tower

Aiton Heights Fire Tower

The hike from the parking lot to the fire watch tower is a little more than half a mile, uphill, and a pretty good workout for the average person.  We were walking up this trail when we first caught a glimpse of the Aiton Heights Fire Tower through the trees.  It’s on the other side of a lake and my wife Rebecca said, “That looks like more than half a mile.”

Aiton Heights Fire Tower

You get to the top of the hill, and there are still plenty of stairs to climb.

Aiton Heights Fire Tower

Aiton Heights Fire Tower

The sign at the bottom warns no more than six people on the tower at a time.  On the day we visited, there was no ranger on-site.

Aiton Heights Fire Tower

After a strenuous climb to the top, you’re rewarded with a stunning view.  These photos were taken in the spring and the trees were just budding.

Aiton Heights Fire Tower

It was a pretty breezy day, and while we were at the top, we could feel the tower swaying.  There were three of us, then two more people showed up at the top.  And below us, four more people started climbing the tower, apparently oblivious to the sign warning of a six person limit.  We climbed down.

Aiton Heights Fire Tower

Aiton Heights Fire Tower

Aiton Heights Fire Tower

Photos by Troy Larson, copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC