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Pioneer Park Tour
August 3, 2009
Carol Weir, Tour Guide

Caboose 101 at Pioneer Park


Carol Weir, Pioneer Park volunteer, presented the History of Pioneer Park to the Annandale History Club in February 2008.  Carol invited History Club attendees to tour the park.  Seventeen people met at Pioneer Park on August 3, 2009.  Carol conducted a tour of four buildings -- the depot, church, schoolhouse and farm house.  After a short break for refreshments in the Big Woods building (served by Annandale History Cub members Barb Ostlund and Rose Johnson), there was an opportunity to tour the rest of the park on our own.  There are 22 buildings fully furnished with artifacts.  Many of the Annandale History Club members are volunteers at Pioneer Park.  We all came away with a greater appreciation of Pioneer Parkís authentic depiction of Annandaleís history and pioneer life in general.  The Pioneer Park website has photos and information about the buildings and Pioneer Park events.  The grand opening for Pioneer Park was Labor Day 1976.    

The Annandale Soo Line Depot

The Annandale Depot was built in 1886. The first passenger train rolled through Annandale December 9, 1886. At that time, tracks were laid as far as Glenwood. The depot had two waiting rooms, one for men and the other for women and children. The womenís waiting room has very high ceilings and bead board walls. Each of the waiting rooms has a potbelly stove. The station masterís office is between the two waiting rooms with a ticket booth opening to each side. The outhouse was demolished in a train accident in 1947 and an indoor bathroom was added at that time. The baggage room has been made into the Pioneer Park gift shop. According to the Soo Line Technical Society, the final regularly scheduled passenger train through Annandale was March 25, 1967. The Annandale Depot closed in 1971 and was moved to Pioneer Park in 1972.

There is a display of the August 12, 1922, train accident involving a freight train, a passenger train and an oil truck. A wall display listed the ten people killed and the 32 people injured in this horrific accident. The dead were listed as follows:

Fred Lamer, 34, Maple Lake, oil truck driver
Christian Wallace, 52, Minneapolis, freight train engineer
Robert Becker, 44, St. Paul, baggageman on passenger train
Arni Thompson, 72, Cambridge, passenger in oil truck
Emil Myllykangas, 19, Annandale
Bert Clark, 36, St. Paul, salesman
Albert Zollner, 64, Adrian, farmer
Raymond Ulrich, 20, Horicon, Wisconsin, going to N. D. harvest field
Edmund Ulrich, 18, Horicon, Wisconsin (brothers)
Unidentified man, clothes torn completely off, no means of identification

Soo Line Caboose 101 on display at Pioneer Park was built by the Pullman Palace Car Company in 1884 and was retired by the Soo Line Railroad in 1974. It was first numbered 50 and about two years later it was renumbered 101 (Soo Line Technical Society).

Crow River Apostolic Lutheran Church
The Crow River Apostolic Lutheran Church of French Lake (also known as Riverside Church) was organized in 1885 by members of the Cokato Apostolic Church, who lived in French Lake Township and wanted a closer meeting house. Nels O. Nelson donated one-half acre of land and Jacob Ojanpera, Esaias Kostamo and Matti Mukkala were designated to arrange laying the foundation for the church. The construction work was done by the French Lake congregation, and the church was completed in 1887. The wood floor boards are laid diagonally and the interior walls and ceiling are of embossed tin. The exterior walls are also sided with tin. There are 21 hand-made rustic Norway pine pews. One bench faced the back, and was used for the nursery. Sunday school was also held in the church. A wood burning stove heated the church. In 1895 Nels Raisanen donated a pump organ. A bench at the front of the church was for the luukaris (three male song leaders with strong voices). The first electric lights were turned on in 1937. In the 1940s services were conducted in both Finnish and English.

The ministers were generally the same as served the Cokato church: Isak Barberg, Caleb Wuollet (from 1883 to1903), Jacob Wuollet, William Lahtinen (until his death in the sinking of the Titanic in 1912), John Oberg, Niilo Saastamoinen, Matt Koski, John N. Nelson, Adolph North and Peter Nordstrom (starting in 1947). The church was actively used until the early1950s when Crow River Apostolic members returned to the Cokato Apostolic church. Services were one Sunday a month towards the end. After the church became inactive, it was at times used for worship services or funerals. The Crow River church was moved to Pioneer Park in December 1975.

Lars Lappi donated one-half acre west of the church for a cemetery. A cemetery of approximately 63 graves (many unmarked) is located on the west side of where the Crow River Apostolic Church was located in Section 22, French Lake Township, about one mile south and 1.7 miles east of French Lake Corners on present-day Osborn Avenue. The Riverside Cemetery and the Crow River are nearby.

The following 32 men and their families were Crow River Apostolic Church charter members: Matt Nurmi, Henry Nurmi, Lars Lappi, Nels O. Nelson, Aaron Hendrickson, Paul Matta, Joseph Niemi, John Palm, August Triffana, John Sillanpaa, Joshua Sikkila, Lars Stromback (Rombak), Matt Lantto, Isaac Lantto, Isaac Yliniemi, Samuel Bukkila, Levi Luukinen, John Hartija, Matt Jutti, Herman Front, Andrew Huro, John Leinonen, John Buranen, August Tryki, Peter Gunnary, Henry Alatalo, John Josephson, Peter Kanginen, Andrew Kurtti, Abram Dorma, Henry Heikela, and Matt Niemela

District 114, Albion Center School
At one time there were 5,000 one room schoolhouses in Minnesota. The District 114, Albion Center schoolhouse south of Annandale in Albion Township was built in 1902 and closed in 1970. There are 26 desks in the schoolhouse, a set of wall maps, black boards, and a wood burning stove. Photographs of presidents and the alphabet in upper and lower case cursive line the walls.

Art Geisinger said that he attended grades 1-8 at the Albion Center schoolhouse. His teacher for all eight grades was Florence Hackbarth. He had the job of getting water for the Red Wing crock from the neighbor each school day. Art also pointed out the bar in the doorway that students could use to chin themselves to wear off energy. There were two outhouses out back.

Art said that the school was located one mile north of Albion Center and 1.4 miles south of Wright County Roads 37 and 6 on the southeast corner of present-day County Road 6 and 30th St. N.W. (diagonally across from the Albion Township building). The District 114 School was moved to Pioneer Park about 1975.

1902 Farm House
There were three buildings (house, barn and granary) when Pioneer Park acquired 55 acres of the farm in 1972. Part of the house is a log cabin built in the 1800s. French language newspapers (some from the 1880s) were on the walls for insulation. The 1902 addition had a parlor, downstairs bedroom and two upstairs bedrooms. Pioneer Park reconfigured the 1902 downstairs layout into a parlor and kitchen, and added a summer kitchen for display purposes.

On the 1879 Corinna Township plat map, the Section 29 land was owned by the railroad. Viola (Ponsford) Ridgway, wife of Annandale's Dr. Alfred Ridgway, owned the farm in 1901. In 1901 the farm was 114.92 acres with land on both sides of the railroad tracks. Mrs. Ridgway rented it to Edward Fieldseth (1871-1939) and his wife Josephine Aronsen (1876-1951). The Fieldseth's 1897 wedding certificate and portraits are displayed in the house. They lived on the farm with their children May, Edward, Alice, Lillian, Florence, Willard and Susie until 1919 when they moved to Fair Haven. Rosenfeld family members lived in the house about 50 years until 1970, first Charlie and Augusta Rosenfeld and then Walter and Violet Rosenfeld. Mrs. Ridgway (1871-1965) sold 55 acres of the farm to the City of Annandale in 1962. Lundeen Ford purchased the land on the north side of the railroad tracks from Mrs. Ridgway in 1962 and built the new Lundeen Ford building in 1973.

Note: When the Rosenfelds lived there, the driveway to the farm entered from a gravel road to the south. There was a farm road to get to the farm land on the north side of the tracks. The Rosenfeld's kitchen was in the log part of the house and a door entered the kitchen from a covered porch on the south side.

The 1869 District 71 Schoolhouse was adjacent to the farm on the west property line.

Notes by Secretary
Annandale History Club