Humboldt Minnesota

11 08 2007

When I lived in America, I always thought of Humboldt, Minnesota as home. We had moved around so much when I was growing up and Humboldt was the only thing that seemed constant.

Humboldt is a very small town in the very northwestern corner of Minnesota. It is just a few miles from the Canadian border. During my whole life, it has never grown bigger than around 120 people. The primary business there is farming. Like every other small town in the area it has its own grain storage towers that you can see from miles around. The land is so flat there (because it used to be the bottom of an ancient lake bed) that it is perfect for farming. The soil is rich and the trees are sparse. The trees that are there were planted after farming began.

In the winter it can get extremely cold. It gets so cold that it is dangerous to have any exposed skin for more than a few seconds (unless you are used to it). I remember going back one winter and experiencing temperatures around -20 F without any wind taken into account. It was the winter that I had to wear thermal underwear the entire time.

The summers are great and the days are long. Dusk usually doesn’t arrive until around 10 or 11pm some nights. It makes it hard for places like the drive-in theater that used to be in Hallock but you get used to the extra day light and even appreciate it.

Given the climate, the original immigrants came from similar areas. My grandparents are from English and Swedish ancestors. There are plenty of people in Minnesota that come from Norwegian or Scandinavian backgrounds. The same is true for places like North Dakota as well.

Humboldt, being in the corner of the state, is also very close to North Dakota. My Dad’s family comes from there from another small town called Adrian. I’ve only been there a handful of times but it is also a nice little town. I remember it being bigger than Humboldt.

Humboldt was officially founded in 1907 but people were living there before then. The train line was completed in the late 1800′s and farming was already fairly popular by the founding. My great-great grandfather James Diamond arrived in town before the train line was even finished. The train line hooks up to Canada and even today the cargo trains go by about twice a day. Humboldt had a train station but it has since been moved away. No train ever stops in Humboldt now except to transfer cars for grain.

Humboldt only has a few places of business now compared to its heyday. It has a gas station and post office. It also still has a church, and a community hall.

All the streets are dirt/gravel. It has a very small grid of streets that can be walked in a short period of time. Most of the houses are showing signs of age but some are still very well kept. People that live in Humboldt are either long term residents (like my grandparents and uncle and aunt) or more temporary residents for the bus plant in Pembina. House prices are really cheap (you can buy a house for less than $10000) but this equates to a house that most likely needs repair and is not close to work. Supply and demand in action.

Recently Humboldt celebrated its 100th year. It was quite a party and everyone appears to have had a great time. The time hasn’t seen that many people at one time for years and years. My Mom and her family were all there to remember the town and its people.

There is an official website for the Humboldt Centennial.

School Bell

Humboldt used to have its own school and it was closed around the late 80s. It proved to be too expensive to run with so few students. There are only a few families that have called Humboldt home over the life of the town. After awhile you come to recognize family names that repeat through the history of the town. This became more obvious when I was looking through the graduation pictures.

The school was torn down and recently the school was commemorated by dedicating the original school bell.

It’s such a nice small town and in a way it is a timeless place. Time moves very slow there. Only entropy brings about change.

It’s a place you probably wouldn’t notice from the highway but once you have spent some time there, you probably won’t forget. The people are so friendly that it feels like a big family.

Last I heard, there were only about 80 people left in town. This number has continued to decrease over the years. I couldn’t tell you why exactly but it probably has something to do with the lure of bigger city living for the youth. Also the fact that farming is a heavily automated activity. One farmer can now do what would have taken much more.

I love Humboldt and will always have great memories of it.

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17 responses

18 08 2007
Beau Ballin

Wow…humboldt is still standing? I used to play baseball there in the summer for my grandpa who was ran the school (Robert Haller) they lived next to the Diamonds – I remember playing with their kids “Ben Diamond” maybe and he had an older brother “james”? Small world

19 08 2007
jeffreymuir

Small world indeed.

Ben and James are cousins of mine. James is now in Lancaster and Ben might still be in Humboldt. Not sure though.

Dennis is my Mom’s brother.

I’m impressed with how fast you found this post.

28 08 2007
Trish Lewis

I graduated from Humboldt-St. Vincent High School in 1977. I grew up in St. Vincent. I was there this summer at the centennial and all-school reunion. Loved reading your stories, and I will feature them on my blog…

28 08 2007
jeffreymuir

Trish,

Very small world indeed. We went through St. Vincent many times in the old days. I remember the old bridge to Pembina. In a way it was a shame that they closed the bridge to traffic.

Thanks for stopping by. I’m glad to meet a very knowledgeable person about the area.

I’m going to visit your blog to learn more.

Jeff

1 09 2007
Deb Diamond

I am interested in finding information about any sisters with the last name Diamond that may have lived in International Falls, MN and ended up in Humbolt.

Thanks

deb

29 08 2009
jill musburger johnson

I am interested in borrowing a centennial book of both Humbolt and St. Vincent for a book I am writing about smallest towns in Minnesota. I graduated from Karlstad in 1970 and remember many trips to Humboldt for basketball games! Thanks. Jill Musburger Johnson, Park Rapids, Minnesota

31 08 2009
Larry Hanson

I went to Humboldt High School in my sophomore year from 1975 to 1976. I don’t know if anybody would remember me or not. I’m Larry Hanson. I remember Kent and Kim Ash and Mark Ash as well. I remember that Kent and Kim are twins. I don’t really remember a whole lot. Time has really flown by. My brother’s name is Ken. We lived in St. Vincent and a year later, we moved to Pembina. I didn’t graduate because I was too cool for school. I was lacking 6 credits and got a G.E.D. at the end of my senior year in Glasgow, Montana. I advise young people to graduate from high school and to further their education. I did go to two different colleges. I had moved to Utah from Montana and went to Snow College in Ephraim, Utah majoring in drafting with Art as a minor. I was excelling quite well in the drafting program but then my instructor told me I would have a fine career in designing nuclear weapons. That scared me so I dropped my major like a hot potato. I moved back to the Warroad area in Minnesota in the summer. Then I moved back to Havre, Montana and went back to school at MSU-Northern and continued in general studies. I took Speech 133 because I got to be a d.j. at the college FM station. I’ve never really been a fan of the Top 40 because I’d rather live without too much repetition so I played what you couldn’t hear on regular radio and not much from MTV. I spun record albums for three years without making a dime at it. It was cool because some bars would turn off the juke box and play the radio while I was on the air. I lived in Havre up until 1998. I now reside in Portland, Oregon and am loving it. Recently I have been hooked up with facebook and have a whole lot of friends. I wasn’t very popular in high school but that’s all right. I remember some names from the St. Vincent and Humboldt area. I hope everyone has been doing well throughout the years. I am so thankful for the internet because of all the research that can be done without having to pay for college courses or checking books out of the library. I would interested in hearing from anyone who graduated from the “Class of 78.” My e-mail address is blackthunderrebel@yahoo.com and it would be cool to know who is still around that neck of the woods. Take care and God bless!

Larry

10 11 2009
Larry Hanson

I still haven’t heard from anybody in the Humboldt and St. Vincent area. I tried out a classmates reunion thang but after money was deducted out of my checking account for a monthly credit report, I ditched the idea and actually got my money back. Be wary of those sites to whoever reads this. There are all iknds of money scammers. I remember the Ashes, Baldwins, Ohmanns, Cotes, and others. I hope all is goihng well for everybody in that neck of the woods. Take care!

Larry

24 02 2010
Connie Nordstrom Murach

I remember you Larry. I can’t remember what grade you were in. But remember Ken too & then didn’t you have an older sister. I am originally from Noyes Minnesota & actually spent my whole life up in that neck of the woods graduation in 1978. Moved to Grand Forks, North Dakota & have been here since 1979. I have 2 sisters. Carrie, who graduated in 1976 and Shirley who graduated in 1980. We went to the 1st all school reunion in 1991 but didn’t make it to the 100th. I still keep in contact with some from the area. Anyway, didn’t even know this site existed. Hope to see more on here.

21 04 2010
Larry Hanson

OH WOW!!! I do remember you! Your father used to own a little grocery store in Noyes. I remember everything. My family relies on my memories. They all got on with their lives raising children. I raised a little hell instead but in a good way. We were in the same grade. I thought I’d be married by now. I’ve come close but it didn’t happen. Life is good. I tried classmates. com but they took my money without me finding out who was still around in Humboldt. After I realized I got burned on my hard earned cash, my bank went after them and I got my money back. I don’t let money scammers get away with anything. I would fore warn anybody about that. My life has been good. We all have our ups and downs. I’ve been to Snow College in Ephraim, Utah and Montana State University-Northern but it was called Northern Montana College at the time. If you know the where abouts of other classmates, I would sure love to know. I’m into historical research and I’m trying to keep my genealogy alive and pass on good stories along the way. If you see anybody from our class, can you tell them a good warm hello from me and that I’ve never forgotten anybody. Anyhow, it was fantastic hearing from you! And I am on facebook with lots of good friends. Many are from the Warroad area where we went to school before moving to St. Vincent and some of those good folks live in the Grand Forks area. Take care and God bless!!!

22 04 2010
Connie Nordstrom Murach

Kim Ash lives in Pine River, MN. She is married with 4 kids. She actually had twins I believe they are 10 now. Can’t remember where Kent lives. Lori Webster lives in a little town in Minnesota. Dan Ohman lives in Pembina, works at Customs. He actually married Kris Baldwin, she would have been in Kenny’s class. We had an all school reunion in 1991 I think it was. Got to see a lot of people. Know they had another one a few years back, but didn’t make it to that one. Last I heard Rick Bakken lived up in the area working at the bus plant. I will try to find out & write more at a later date. You take care & it was good to hear from you. I just happened to come across this site looking for something else. You were always so quiet, so am surprised that you had the wild side :)..Take care! Connie Nordstrom Murach

4 06 2010
Larry Hanson

Hey Connie!!!

I still would like to do some more historical research on Humboldt. I know I didn’t get to know everybody in high school like I wanted to. I was very shy. It would take me an hour to even ask somebody to dance and then the words would come out all wrong. I can laugh at that now. I’ve dance many times since those days. The last time was In Havre, Mt. with my step dad’s lady friend who wasn’t or ever will be his date and she was 86 at the time. Gotta keep elderly folks happy plus she liked my Ozzy Osbourne imitation over my Johnny Cash imitation on karaoke. That’s another story however.

I suppose you would like to know about my siblings. Ken went on and got married. He has a son, Aaron who is 20 years old with a child. He and his wife are divorced now but hey both live in Havre. Ken’s a carpenter by trade. My sister Dawn who you might remember went to St. Vincent Elementary School lives in Havre as well and works at a nursing home in Havre. I don’t know if you remember Kim our deaf sister. She lives in Havre with a son who is 21 years old. If you don’t remember Brenda, that’s cool because she was living in Boston, Massachusetts at the time and hardly ever came to St. Vincent. She’s a registered nurse in Portland, OR at the VA hospital where she’s been employed since 1987. She’s been to Hawaii, Ireland, Mexico, and a few other places on the globe. She’s pretty fast paced with her work and social life. She has a son who is 32 years old and she is also a grandmother. She has really been successful. Our mother passed away on September 19th, 2007. May she rest in peace.

I’m not so wild anymore. I guess age catches up with one but I still feel like I’m 18 at times and I forget. I never look on life with regret. I wish I would never have started smoking. I constantly tell younger kids not to start. I’m a jack of all trades when it comes to the labor world. I take on any challenge. The rewards are never ending. One thing I did back in St. Vincent was invent my artwork. It was way out back in those days and I don’t remember sharing any of it with you guys. But it’s a hit here in Portland and I’ve made a couple of T-shirts with my art style. I’d like to make more. I want to publish a book in my time. I also write. You take care of yourself and bless your heart for taking the time to write to me.

Larry

7 06 2010
Trish Lewis

Just stopping by to say hello. St. Vincent Memories continues to post history about St. Vincent, Pembina, Emerson, Humboldt, Hallock, etc. plus (thanks to Kris Baldwin Ohmann) Red River Valley Website by Dennis Matthews is back up and running…!

9 06 2010
Larry Hanson

I checked out the St. Vincent Memories site yesterday and I’ll have to say I was quite impressed with it. I only lived in St. Vincent for not even a year before moving to Pembina with my family. I remember Kris Baldwin and her husband Dan Ohmann was in my grade. It is very important to keep those memories alive. Aww!!! The stories one can tell. One of my jobs in the Pacific Northwest was working at a hotel that had been a shelter for poor people in 1911 until a little after the depression in Troutdale, Oregon. Then in 1949, it was a rest home. It’s called the Edgefield Manor now. I was doing maintenance, janitorial work, and I was sort of a bellhop to boot. At my job, we were required to know the history of the hotel in the case that if guests there had questions we would be able to answer them. One time I read a book on the Centennial of my hometown, Roosevelt, Minnesota back and forth to work on the bus. I was inspired this spring to find out about the history of St. Vincent, Humboldt, and the surrounding areas. I am very thankful for Jeffrey Muir for posting this site on the internet. I will keep checking back from time to time and if anybody remembers me send me a line and let me know what’s been up in your lives. Thanks for filling me in on this, Trish. Have a great day!!!

20 11 2012
Sky

Thanks for the post Larry, glad to see you like history. keep it up.

21 11 2012
Larry Hanson

Humboldt High School was a little smaller than my previous school in Warroad, Minnesota but everybody rocked back in the day. Knowing history keeps one in their youth as far as I’m concerned. I have many good memories of the people in the St. Vincent area. If I were to say that I have regrets, then I would be saying that those people were never important in my life and that would be a lie. I wish everybody up in St. Vincent and the surrounding the areas the best. Have a great day and thank you very much for the reply!

16 11 2013
Jami Juelke

Hi to all! Last time we (Jim) and I past through Humboldt there was no school. We went out to visit Cathy Cleem, but no one home. We saw Rocky Bakken in Pembina. He had a shoe store and also was doing some art. We saw Kim Ash a long time ago. She stopped to see us. Mick Simmons, old science teacher, lives in the Cities and runs Grandpa’s Ice Cream Shop in Fridley, I believe. Linda Styrwoll, English, and I still exchange Christmas notes. Jim loved Pearl’s cafe. Humboldt brought the two of us together. We live in Sauk Centre and are both retired. Well sort of. Jim has a small hobby farm where we have red angus and horses. We spent most of our fall riding in Minnesota’s State Parks. Connie, I remember you as a person with a positive attitude and great sense of humor. Do you remember Sharon Ohman’s joke about the sanitary landfill? Ask Shirley if she remembers.

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