Sunday, July 1, 2012

Fun Facts – Groningen

1. In 1870, the St. Paul and Duluth Railroad crossed Pine County, and railroad men established a flag stop and section house at Miller Station. Three years later, the first operator, hunter and trapper William Jacob, began his work. He was the only resident in the area.

2. In the 1880s, a few setters, including section foreman John Haglin and his brother Severt, moved to Miller Station. The Brennan Lumber Co. began logging nearby in 1887.

3. A railroad depot was moved from Sandstone Junction to Miller Station in 1890, and operator Mr. Thompson relocated his family to the tiny village. Andrew Hansen also settled just southeast of Miller Station.

4. During the 1894 fire, all the residents of Miller Station survived. They even managed to save the section house by hauling muddy water up from a slough, but the depot burned.

5. Beginning in 1895, St. Paul and Duluth Railroad officials hired Theodore F. Koch to sell railroad land in Pine County. Koch, who received a 20% commission from land sales, worked hard to bring settlers into the area. A group of Hollanders soon settled at Miller Station, purchasing land for $4 to $5 per acre and renaming the village “Groningen” after their hometown in Holland.

6. Groningen's first school was held at Severt Haglin's home in 1896. There were seven students: George and Arthur Haglin, Waldie and Ollie Erickson, John Sundeen, Peter Bjorklund, and Edwin Erickson. Miss Lenore Erickson of Sandstone was the teacher. The schoolhouse was built the following year, received an addition in 1908, and was replaced by a two-room school in 1915.

7. Theodore Koch's land company built a large, two-story hotel in Groningen in 1897. The lumber came from dead trees pulled from Miller Lake. Koch also founded a saw mill and turpentine processing plant.

8. Groningen residents celebrated a new century when they gathered at the schoolhouse at 8 p.m. on December 31, 1899. They built a bonfire out of barrels of straw soaked in kerosene and made a sign with 1899 on one side and 1900 on the other. Everyone cheered at midnight and greeted the midnight passenger train with loud cries of “Happy New Year!”

9. By 1918, Groningen was home to two general stores, one of which was A. Erickson's Groningen Mercantile; A.C. Haglin's garage; three cream buyers; a potato warehouse; some blacksmith shops; the hotel; a barber shop; and the bank, where W.H. Erickson served as cashier.

10. Like many small towns, Groningen struggled to maintain its population and business community. In 1954, the post office closed. The general store and bank followed in 1955 and 1956, respectively. Today, Groningen is another Pine County ghost town.

Sources: Pine County...and Its Memories by Jim Cordes; information from Helen Haglin and William Erickson; timeline from Sandstone History and Art Center

The Groningen depot

One of Groningen's stores

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