‘Centennial’ Teacher with a passion for Teaching and Learning

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Interview with Lillian Mathews, BSU graduate and Shevlin School teacher by Janet Kelly Moen                                   The life-story of a woman that encompasses an entire century is by necessity one that reaches back not only into another time, but into another continent as well. The changes over this period of time were staggering, and involved new lands, new technologies, in the context of different cultures and languages.  All of these changes were mediated through family life, in a time when families were both extended and large, and deeply imbedded in […]

Keeping the Northern Pacific Railroad Rolling: An interview with Lowell O’Brien, Bridge and Building Crewman

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On February 16, 2016 I interviewed Lowell O’Brien in Bemidji. Lowell and his crew repaired or rebuilt most of the wooden piling-type train trestles along the Northern Pacific rail line between Bemidji and International Falls, as well as further south towards Brainerd. Lowell was raised by his parents, Guy R. and Blanche O’Brien, near Hines, MN. His Grandparents were living in in Gemmell, MN. at the time—as his Grandfather worked for a cedar pole company. In fact, Lowell was born in Gemmell—his mother went to there to stay with her parents as the time approached for his birth (July 7, […]

Sidetracked (Just the bear facts…Oh deer…)

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By Darla Sathre (from The Depot Express newsletter, Fall 2015) While browsing through some Bemidji history publications, I (more than once) came across the famous 1897 photo that looks east on 3rd Street toward Lake Bemidji. Immediately one notices a bear cub and a fawn among the people. The Carson family owned two bears, one of which is seen in the photo along with Evan Carson. The first year they let the bear cubs hibernate over winter in the root cellar behind their family hotel, but come spring Evan got too close and one of the bear cubs stripped off […]

On the Street Where You Live (Grand Forks Bay)

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By Cecelia Wattles McKeig (from The Depot Express newsletter, Fall 2015) We seldom see a specific reference to Grand Forks Bay anymore, but from 1902 until 1940, there were frequent references to the popular vacation spot on Lake Bemidji, and Grand Forks Bay even had its own column in the Bemidji Pioneer and in the Grand Forks Herald! Do you know where it was? Grand Forks Bay was the oldest summer resort on the lake and was platted on the northwest shore of Lake Bemidji. After the Great Northern Railroad completed the connection from Fosston to Duluth in 1898, Bemidji […]

Sidetracked (Visitors)

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By Darla Sathre (from The Depot Express newsletter, Summer 2015) Although Bemidji gets visitors from far and near throughout the whole year, we really expect them in droves in the summertime. Bemidji has had numerous well-known visitors through the years, but this article is going to focus on two widowed First Ladies — Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of President Franklin Roosevelt, and Edith Wilson, wife of President Woodrow Wilson. Eleanor Roosevelt visited Bemidji in October of 1955, staying at the Markham Hotel. While the reason for her visit was to speak at a teachers’ convention of the Minnesota Education Association, she […]

On the Street Where You Live (Lake Boulevard Indian Trail)

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By Cecelia Wattles McKeig (from The Depot Express newsletter, Summer 2015) The historic Indian trail along Lake Bemidji’s west shore still exists, although perhaps it is not used to the extent it was in earlier years. The old trail has always been of great interest to local residents. It stretches along the lakeshore from Library Park to Bemidji State University. It has gone through periods of disinterest and lack of care to intense beautification projects spearheaded by the Bemidji Women’s Garden Club in the 1960s. The trail is a remnant of an Indian trail that linked Leech Lake with Red […]

Sidetracked (Candy)

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By Darla Sathre (from The Depot Express newsletter, Spring 2015) Valentine’s Day, with its surfeit of chocolate and other candy, is over. Soon will be Easter, along with more chocolate, as well as a variety of other indulgent sweets. I got to wondering about the availability of candy in the early days of Beltrami County. The first mention of candy that I found was maple sugar cakes distributed to visiting children by Chief Bemidji! It did not take long before bakeries and candy stores, or confectionaries as they were called, were scattered throughout the area. Mr. and Mrs. Frank Thompson […]

On the Street Where You Live (Blocks as Buildings)

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By Cecelia Wattles McKeig (from The Depot Express newsletter, Spring 2015) The best definition I can find is that a block was a multiple occupancy building. In Bemidji, a block such as the Dalton Block might house several offices or businesses and, very likely, apartments or rooms to rent as well. The term block is also used to define a piece of real estate such as Lot 1, Block 3, but that was different than the way the term was used to describe buildings in Bemidji. These blocks were more like “building blocks” – or not! Over the years there […]

What’s in a Name? (Townships – Southern Beltrami County)

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by Sue Bruns (from The Depot Express newsletter, Winter 2014) Beltrami County consists of 51 named townships –not all of them organized — and a number of unnamed, unorganized townships in the northern part of the county. Most of these townships have stories behind their names. Here are a few of those explanations. Bemidji Township, along with a village established in 1896, took the name “Bemidji,” a shortened version of the Ojibwe name for the lake “Bemejigamaug,” meaning a lake with water running through it. East of Bemidji is Frohn Township, established in 1898 and named “Frohn” by a Norwegian […]