Sidetracked (Potato Chip Plant)

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By Darla Sathre (from The Depot Express newsletter, Winter 2014) Sidetracked by Darla Sathre As I was filing newspaper articles one day, the following few sentences, written by Rosemary Given Amble in 1995, caught my eye: “Bemidji’s industries in 1937 included several lumber mills and kindred activities. We still have some of those. We no longer have the railroad shops, butter and cream factories, the flour mill, the potato chip plant, nor the brick plant.” Potato chip plant? I thought that was worth a sidetrack! I learned that it was called Witting Company. I looked in a 1942 city directory, […]

On the Street Where You Live (Multi-Generational Homes)

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By Cecelia Wattles McKeig (from The Depot Express newsletter, Winter 2014) In studying the buildings, blocks, and streets of Bemidji, I don’t know why it should surprise me that Bemidji people often lived a long time at the same addresses. After all, my mom is still in our family home after 70 years, but I find it interesting that some families chose to stay in the same house over decades. So much for upward mobility! Maybe we move less than the stereotypical American family, but I found many families and even neighborhoods that did not change much in the make-up […]

What’s in a Name? (Townships with Ojibwe Names)

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by Sue Bruns (from The Depot Express newsletter, Fall 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. At least four township names have their roots in Ojibwe words: Bemidji Township, which, 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.” Nebish Township: According to the Minnesota Historical Society, Nebish Township and its lake of this name are from the Ojibwe […]

Sidetracked (Fireplace of States)

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By Darla Sathre (from The Depot Express newsletter, Fall 2014) I love rocks. So no matter where I am or what I am doing, rocks can get me sidetracked. The nationally known Fireplace of States located in Bemidji’s Chamber of Commerce Tourist Information Center is made of over 900 rocks from all over the country. It all started in the early 1930s with an idea from Harry E. Roese, district manager of the Federal Reemployment Service, as well as president of the Civic and Commerce Association in Bemidji. His grand idea was of a fireplace containing rocks from every state […]

Every Picture Has a Story

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By Sharon Geisen (from The Depot Express newsletter, Fall 2014) Have you looked at a picture and wondered: Who are these people? What did they do for a living? Why did they come to Bemidji? If they moved away, where did they go? Where was this picture taken? What happened to that building? What did these people accomplish? Many questions like these stir in our minds just from looking at a picture, and I recently had those questions while looking for pictures to hang in the hallway of the Beltrami County History Center. I came across this wonderful black and […]

On the Street Where You Live (Condemned Buildings)

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By Cecelia Wattles McKeig (from The Depot Express newsletter, Fall 2014) Driving down the street last spring, I was surprised to see a backhoe at work tearing down a building at 1207 Bemidji Avenue. I quickly made a left and came back through the alley and watched as the claws of the machine tore at the old house. I wondered who had lived there and why it was being torn down. No doubt there was good reason, as many houses in Bemidji have “gone to seed” and needed to be removed. In the early 1960s, more than three dozen old […]

The Bemidji Belle & Dixie Belle

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By P. J. Reynolds (exclusive online content to accompany The Depot Express newsletter, Summer 2014) Bemidji has changed a lot over the years. Tons of tourist attractions have come and gone, but there is one attraction that many old timers will always remember: the Bemidji Belle and the Dixie Belle. During the 1950s the Bemidji Belle and the Dixie Belle were very popular tourist attractions. They used to sit at a dock which was at the water front near the Paul and Babe statue. The Bemidji Belle was a 66 foot knotty pine stern-wheeler. It was launched on May 21, […]

Sidetracked (Drs. Larson & Larson)

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By Darla Sathre (from The Depot Express newsletter, Summer 2014) Eyesight is something we tend to take for granted until we have a problem. I have worn glasses since childhood, but recently got a new prescription. I am now wearing trifocals with lines. They take a little getting used to, and the first time I wore them in the museum archive room my eyes felt a little dizzy. Nothing major, just some adjustment issues on my part involving moving my head up and down trying to focus on newspaper articles. So when I noticed a 1907 Bemidji Daily Pioneer article […]

What’s in a Name? (Tenstrike)

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by Sue Bruns (from The Depot Express newsletter, Summer 2014) In May 1899, a post office was established in a little logging community on the shores of Gull Lake just north of Bemidji. The village of Tenstrike was incorporated on March 11, 1901. From 1901-1915, the little community published a newspaper called the Tenstrike Tribune. The M & I Railroad ran through Tenstrike and into the lake on which two different sawmills operated, sawing logs purchased from settlers. In the early 1900s Tenstrike was home to thirteen saloons, four grocery stores, several hotels, two lodges, a post office, two meat […]

On the Street Where You Live (Neighborhood Groceries)

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By Cecelia Wattles McKeig (from The Depot Express newsletter, Summer 2014) Neighborhood Groceries One of the memories that many of us share is that of the neighborhood grocery – the kind of place that just did not change much. A kid could ride his bike there to pick up a quart of milk for supper, or approach the owner with a note and a quarter from his mother when he was sent to pick up a pack of Lucky Strikes or Camels. Most of the time the owners were patient with us when we counted our pennies or stammered when […]