Tuesday, October 04, 2011

They say history repeats itself, repeats itself, repeats itself...

Churchs Ferry’s most successful industry was the Northewestern Ironworks which was begun in April 1895. At that time Samuel Hann, who had been working near Cando, set up business in the former Nelson blacksmith shop. Hann and his partner David Hough of Minneapolis erected their first building just east of the intersection of Church Ave. and 3rd. ST. In March 1897 the iron works started advertising its services statewide. For a few years the business and the number of employees continued to expand. By April 1900 the Devils Lake paper wrote a description of the business that stated, “An institution like this would be a great credit to a city much larger than Churchs Ferry”. The business expanded again in 1901 adding 30 feet on the north side of the building and again in 1903 adding a second story. The company’s most significant contribution to the area was the structures for 14 bridges required by Ramsey County in 1904. In 1905 the company produced steel cells for a jail at Starkweather. Late in 1906 Hann decided to move his business to Devils Lake. Faced with losing this important industry, Churchs Ferry residents responded with punitive measures. On Nov. 12th the village board president swore out a warrant for Hann’s arrest charging him with violating an ordinance requiring the removal of machinery standing in the alley by his building. Brought to trial before the local justice, Hann’s Devils Lake lawyer fought and won. Thus after 10 years Churchs Ferry lost what was its most important industrial enterprise.
Now after 10 years, the City of Churchs Ferry has decided to repeat history with gardendwellers FARM as the object of its attention. I predict the outcome will be somewhat the same, but this time maybe the citizens of Churchs Ferry can ensure that it will never happen again.
'"Democracy must be more than two wolves and a sheep deciding what to have for dinner."
James Bovard

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