By Starrla Cray
NEW GERMANY, MN For many New Germany residents, the recent feed mill demolition was a welcome sight.
“Our city needs to grow, and it is difficult to promote if the first thing newcomers see are dilapidated, boarded up, and neglected buildings,” former New Germany Mayor Pete Pederson noted. “I have, for several years, been trying to get these eyesores removed, and it is finally going to happen.”
Demolition of the old feed mill and small coal shed on Broadway Street began Dec. 28 and ended the beginning of January.
The privately-owned mill, which closed in 2002, had been on land owned by the Carver County Regional Railroad Authority.
“In recent years, it’s been used for storage purposes by the owner,” said Lenny Schmitz of Carver County Parks.
Carver County Regional Railroad Authority is in the process of developing the Dakota Rail Trail, which will extend the paved regional trail system from Hennepin County to the western border of Carver County.
Eventually, the trail will connect with future trails to be developed in McLeod County, according to a 2010 newsletter from the Metropolitan Council. Groundbreaking for the trail segment across central Carver County was in April 2010.
In addition to making room for the Dakota Rail Trail, the feed mill was “getting to be a major safety concern,” according to Schmitz.
Carver County workers tried to keep the building secure and patch up holes, but Schmitz said they have found empty beverage containers inside.
“It is in terrible shape and there is a problem with some of the kids in town getting inside,” Pederson noted. “I informed the county of this and stressed the liability issue of kids getting hurt. We tried to button up any accesses, but the deteriorated condition of the building made it difficult.”
The feed mill is the fourth building Carver County has taken down in the past six or seven years, according to Schmitz.
“It’s the first one of those that we haven’t been able to do a fire training burn on,” he added.
Schmitz said the feed mill’s downtown location wasn’t ideal for fire training, and the firefighters weren’t comfortable with going inside.
Instead, the contractor, Wuetherich Excavating in Norwood Young America, is utilizing parts of the clean wood for heating.
Demolition work took several days (partly because of snow and wind), but Matt Luepke (who worked with Greg Vogel) said everything went well overall.
“We’re happy to see it go,” New Germany resident Carolyn Effertz said.
Her husband, Dave, remembers the feed mill being built in 1956. Back then it was considered the “new” feed mill.
The previous feed mill, which was formerly the grain elevator, was built by Richard Spatz around 1900.
Alfred Anderson started operating the mill in 1933, according to the 1987 New Germany centennial book.
Farmers would bring grain to Anderson, who would then grind it and mix it with concentrates to make a balanced meal for livestock.
A hill was made for the mill, in order to make it easier to dump the grain.
“I remember sliding down that hill as a kid,” said Effertz, who was born in 1938.
Other feed mill owners included Charles Karschner, Harold Becker, and Paul Bennyhoff. Alvin and Louise Hamann purchased the mill in 1952, and operated it until it was demolished in 1956.
The Hamann’s turned the business over to their son, Dale Hamann, and son-in-law, Charles Dressel, in 1984.
In addition to custom grinding and mixing, the mill sold commercial feeds, farm supplies, sanitation products, and bulk service, according to the centennial book.
Now that the feed mill is gone, Carver County can start to think more about the Dakota Rail Trail, which will pass through New Germany. Part of the trail is already completed, and construction of another section, which runs from Mayer through New Germany to the west county line, is expected to begin in 2012.
To learn more about the Dakota Rail Trail, go to www.dakotarailtrail.com.