By Kristen Miller
DASSEL, MN In 1913, when the current Dassel creamery was built, it was considered “one of the finest and handsomest butter making plants in the state.”
Nearly 100 years later, that same historic creamery is scheduled to be torn down within the next two weeks.
Discussion had taken place among the Dassel Co-op Dairy Association board about refurbishing the building, however, the cost to restore it was too great, according to Dennis Danielson, Dassel Co-op manager.
The first creamery in Dassel was built in 1894, with business starting March 1, 1985. This original building was located just east of the current building.
When it was found to be too small for the operation, the current creamery was built for $15,000, and opened for business November 1913.
A dedication celebration for the new building took place in conjunction with Independence Day, in July 1914.
“Crowds of people began streaming into the village at an early hour and by 10:30 a.m. there was at least 2,500 people on hand,” reported the July 9, 1914 Dassel Anchor. “By one o’clock this number was swelled to fully 4,000 and they all appeared to have a good time.”
President of the Creamery Association, August Johnson welcomed the crowd, and barbecue beef was served.
In 1921, the Dassel creamery became apart of the first district to market its butter through Land O’Lakes, according to Don Berg of Dassel who also worked for Land O’Lakes.
During the 1950s, the co-op built a feed mill behind the creamery and took over the process of grinding feed.
It became a one-stop-shop, so to speak for farmers in the area.
Jerry Bollman, who hauled milk for the creamery, remembers there being a line a block long of farmers waiting to grind their feed.
In 1978, Danielson began working at the creamery. Wally Newstrom was the manager at that time.
Danielson’s job included dumping the 10-gallon (85 pounds each) milk cans that came on the conveyor. Milk was then pumped into a tank to be warmed, and the cream was separated. The milk would then be hauled to First District in Litchfield.
After the butter was churned the following day, the butter was put into 65-pound wax-lined boxes and stored, until later being shipped.
When Danielson became manager in 1984, the creamery no longer accepted canned milk.
“Everybody was going bulk,” Danielson said, explaining that it was easier to operate for farmers and the co-op.
Around 1989, the creamery’s butter making operation ceased, at which time the co-op began hauling all of its milk to First District in Litchfield, according to Danielson.
The focus of the co-op operations then became feed, along with fuel, which came in 1983 when it purchased Bollman’s bulk petroleum oil distributing business. Bollman maintained fuel operations until he retired around 2001.
The co-op currently has more than 200 accounts, but Danielson is hoping a new facility will help draw more customers.
“That’s the long-range goal,” Danielson said.
The plan is to construct a 40- by 60-foot building in the same location that will allow for both storage and retail space.
As far as the destruction of the building, Danielson has heard both sides those that would like to have it restored and those that will be glad to see it gone.
Parts of the building will not be lost, however.
Bob Chantland of Montrose owns the old schoolhouse located at the intersection of Highway 12 and Wright County Road 12.
Last week he began removing the clay tile and decorative brick from the creamery building to be used on his own structure.
Chantland has been in the process of restoring the brick schoolhouse for 20 years. The tile and brick will be used on a storage shed on the north side of his property.
“It would just be a crying shame if this tile would end up in the landfill,” Chantland said, noting the tile is incredibly expensive to purchase..