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Friday, September 18, 2015

Highway 10—When Was It Built?

I received this challenging question several times while discussing post World War Two Sherburne County.  Answering the question is important because Highway 10 provides perspective on events around the county.  The Highway also remains an emotional scar on the psyche of Sherburne County.

The direct answer about construction of Highway 10:  the project began in 1929 and expanded in 1952.  At first glance the road seemed a great gift, connecting two major cities with small Sherburne County towns.  Yet, expansion in 1950 caused major upset. 

Charles Babcock promoted Highway 10 during his tenure as Highway Commissioner.  The two lane highway through Sherburne County opened in 1929.  Some of the road was paved, other sections were dirt or gravel.  It stretched from Anoka through Sherburne County to North Dakota.  

The greatest impact to Sherburne County and the road came in 1950.  The Highway Department announced the widening of Highway 10 to a four lane, divided highway.  Buildings that blocked the road, such as those in Becker and Clear Lake, would be moved or demolished.  

The construction continued through 1952.  The destruction of so many homes and businesses proved traumatic to Sherburne County residents.  The events left indelible memories for long term residents.  In two years, 1950 and 51, 42 structures were destroyed in West Sherburne County.  Buildings in Becker, Clear Lake, and Cable were moved or torn down.  Moving businesses, relocating the Catholic Church, and tearing down homes still resides like a bitter pill in the minds of West Sherburne residents. 

Highway 10 to this day remains an important geographic feature in Sherburne County.  The trauma of the creation and expansion of Highway 10 also remains an important character consideration for Sherburne County.  

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

A Salute To Newspaper Correspondents

As a former newspaper reporter, I know firsthand the long hours and challenges demanded by the job of collecting news.  Local news columns from the Sherburne County Star News reveal the difficulties and dangers of the occupation of newspaper correspondent.

Early in 1897 the newspaper published appeals for news and reports from around the county.  “We would be glad to have anyone residing in town or county send in news items,” the editors wrote.  “It is not necessary that the items be startling ones, for instance a murder, or a house burning up with all its inmates,” the paper published.  “Any little pleasant social occurrence is always interesting: an entertainment you may have given; a trip you are taking; a friend who is visiting you; … as well as the stand-bys; births, deaths, and marriages.” 

Both the editors and the correspondents often found news detecting difficult.  In a local news column from Becker published on January 1, 1897, the Star News reported, “A lady seemed quite ruffled because she did not see a notice of her wedding last week.  Well, we didn’t get a slice of cake.” 

The art of gathering news was also dangerous.  As the Star News reported in May of 1897, “Our reporter came near having his head knocked to a peak for not having any items in the Star News last week.  Then there would have been something to write about.” 

Reporting news demanded long hours, an ability to dig out gossip, and accept dangerous assignments.  Not much has changed in the past 120 years.  As you encounter the publishers, editors and reporters of the Sherburne County Citizen, the West Sherburne Tribune, and the Star News somehow acknowledge their efforts.  Reporting the news in entertaining yet informative language remains a challenge and their efforts are appreciated.