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Old Howard Mill and the (Possibly) Incendiary Howard Boys

Back in 2009, some folks on PDD wondered about the Old Howard Mill Road, where it went, and who the heck the Howards were. I just wrote an article that sheds some light on that subject, for your reading pleasure.

And here’s a photo of the Howard family marker at Forest Hill, with an annoying late afternoon shadow across it: 

12 Comments

pats

about 6 years ago

I read your article earlier today and loved it!  Great work.  You always tell a story well.   Thank you.

DECk37

about 6 years ago

Great read. I love the information and history! It gets me tooling around Google maps and the DNR aerial photograph archives. 

So with that I have a question. There is a set of buildings that appear near the "likely site of Howard's Mill" as far back as 1939 that the old road cuts right between. Also, one or more of the buildings may still be there in the dirt factory today. Could that have been it, or was this a real farm or something else? You did say the mill was dismantled moved to canada, and there's quite the gap between that time 1937. Probably just wishful thinking on my part. 

I also noticed that there was a set of three baseball fields just north of there, right below Riley Road that are now barely recognizable; they didn't seem to last long.

hbh1

about 6 years ago

Well, it's certainly possible there were some buildings there as late as that, but I doubt the Dirt Factory buildings are that old. I walked past there today, and bushwhacked behind the quarry in grass way up past my head and then back along the creek. Flushed two partridge, but didn't see anything that looked like ruins. There's a fine new beaver dam, though! I came out where the historical sign is, and all I can say is that it had to be in a convenient place along the creek. The rock people have dumped huge piles of rebar/iron back there, and I imagine the land has been altered quite a bit over the years. 

That barn the Dirt Factory has is pretty cool, though. As well as the tall yellow barn where the auto body place was.  I think they were pretty clearly a single farm. (You can walk all around it on the new hiking trail (which is also the Ramstad snowmobile trail in that stretch.) 

I'd love to go snowshoeing along the creek when it gets solidly frozen to see if there's any evidence along the creek bed.

hbh1

about 6 years ago

And of course it occurs to me now that everything back there burned in the 1918 Fire, so that anything remaining would have to be stone. An article in the DNT after the fire (10/14/1918)  mentions that a number of farms and houses burned along "Howard's Mill Road," along with the Bridgeman & Russell dairy, which was nearby.

DECk37

about 6 years ago

Yeah, it probably was not the mill, wooden buildings, from that era don't tend to fare as well over the years, this was likely a farm, or some sort of other business. At least in the old photos you can see the old road clears as day, now swallowed up by time.

DECk37

about 6 years ago

Here's the area in question, 1939:

[img]http://www.perfectduluthday.com/wp-content/uploads/comments/1939-1.gif[/img]

DECk37

about 6 years ago

Here's a better one from 1948, you can see how it could be mistaken for a mill to the untrained eye:

DECk37

about 6 years ago

[img]http://www.perfectduluthday.com/wp-content/uploads/comments/1948-1.gif[/img]

DECk37

about 6 years ago

Here's 1989:
[img]http://www.perfectduluthday.com/wp-content/uploads/comments/1989.gif[/img]

DECk37

about 6 years ago

And lastly, 2010:
[img]http://www.perfectduluthday.com/wp-content/uploads/comments/2010.gif[/img]

I skipped a couple decades, (1961 & 1972), as to not post too many, but you can see the change. No one would know there was road there unless you told them.

hbh1

about 6 years ago

Yeah, you know, most roads that used to exist around here you can at least find a footpath where the road used to be, or at least see the clearing between trees. I essentially followed that road path today (to the northwest of the buildings, nearly exactly)  and found nothing to indicate there was ever a road there. Like, it was mostly rough hummocks of mud and swamp grass. If it was summer, it would have been muck up to my knees and impossible going. I think the quarry land-moving has swallowed everything up. 

Thanks for the aerial photos. I spend so much time with old maps, that I forget to look for old aerials.

DECk37

about 6 years ago

Sometimes I wonder if the people that now live in these areas of past history know. Hey, did you know your driveway was once a road? Or, trains used to pass through where your house house stands today.

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