Photos from 1955 show buildings no longer here.

By : 
Mary Jo Dathe
Glimpses of Yesteryear

Can you believe it?  Sixty-three years ago, and all the buildings in the accompanying photographs have been moved, destroyed, whatever...The 1874 fire wagon you see in the first picture is now safely preserved at the Methodist Church Museum on West Courtland Street.  Discovered in a shed during the 1955 centennial year, the fire wagon was restored by the firemen for uses in parades and driven by horses.  It has hanging on it the 18 original water buckets of rubber-coated canvas, used by the “bucket brigade.”  They drew water from strategically located cisterns plus Spring Valley Creek to try to quell the fire, wherever it was located.

The fire wagon still has the 52" wheels and the long ladder with its hooks at the end of poles.  Originally the fire wagon was located in the basement of the Andersen Opera House on Section Avenue, and teams vied to get there first to receive the $5 for pulling it to the site of the fire. The fire wagon was greatly augmented when the firemen purchased a 10-man hand pump in 1885 with hoses that greatly improved efficiency.

Great news was announced in 1893 when the city established its first waterworks and electric Plant on East Park Street.  That meant the inexhaustible spring, which was located south of the present Carnegie Library (now City Hall) was accessible. In 1911, the steel 100-foot water tower was built on East Church Street so its "natural gravity pressure of 65# was ample to furnish adequate fire protections for the four miles of public water mains and 40 hydrants."

Albert Dumdie (1870-1942), a well-trained tailor and immigrant from Germany, was one of the volunteer firemen.  He not only had his shop on South Broadway where he made fine suits for local gentlemen, but he also did sewing and repair work for the Leuthold men's clothing store for over 50 years.  He married Emma Rhode, they had no children, and they resided on South Broadway.  He apparently attended the Minnesota State Firemen's annual conventions, and some of his medals are displayed on the fire wagon.

We need to remember that Dumdie was in his 60s when he was still a faithful delegate at these meetings, and he died three years after attending the 1939 meeting in Lake City. Although small in stature, Dumdie was highly regarded and retained a commanding presence in the community as one of our devoted firefighters.

The Spring Valley Dairy in the background was often visited by hungry residents, who were eager to buy the butter, milk and cream, but also the tasty malts, milkshakes and sundaes available at the dairy.  The dairy was replaced by the First National Bank (built 1902) in 1958 when it announced its new location. Two of my friends from First National must be on the “float” and waving to the crowd. Two houses that occupied that space were relocated, one to Warren Avenue, and not sure the fate of the other one.  You can also see the tower of the Congregational Church once located on Jefferson, along with its parsonage, now the present site of the Spring Valley Public Library (another long story!). 

Category: