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Otto Berg


Debbie Rabe

Otto Berg, only educated up to the sixth grade, becameone of the best highway construction workers in Kittson County. Even afterretirement, he likes to go out and watch the men work on various constructionjobs. He does not offer any advice unless asked. Otto just likes to seehow highway construction equipment has advanced since his retirement.

Otto worked in several iron ore mines near Hibbing, Minnesota.In these mines he was chief fireman. He ran the small iron ore cars thatran in the tunnels, and also fired the steam locomotives, shovels, and eventhe steam boilers which were steam pumps to pump out the pits.

In the highway construction business, he laid the firstblacktop road between Orleans and Northcote, by hauling gravel with a teamof horses in the year 1917. First the crew of men laid gravel, then puta thin layer of oil. The men now mixed this oil with gravel and finallylaid a little more oil for the finishing touch. It took the crew at leasta month to complete the road.

Otto worked mainly over this area called district numberfive. This district included Norman, Polk, Red Lake, Marshall, Roseau, Penningtonplus Kittson County. At this time Minnesota had sixteen different highwaydistricts.

Wages at this time were poor compared to today's salaries.Even if he put in much overtime, his wages were still small. Generally hewent to work at eight in the morning and came home about five.

Otto said "One of the funniest experiences he hadon the job was one summer when he was eating his lunch. I heard the strangestsounds. I could not figure out what was making the noise so I looked outof the window of the truck and saw a mother Hungarian Partridge and herbrood, whistling, and peeping. Boy was that quite a sight.

He then retired from the construction business in the year1857. After he retired he did some blade work and also did ditch work formany neighbors.

Otto was born in Skein township, a southern part of Sweden,on the thirteenth day of October, 1889, with his mother, father, and fivebrothers and sisters.

He was then married in l9l6, but because of the flu epidemicshe died two years later leaving a six week old son. Otto's parents tookthe child and raised it because Otto had to go and work to support his son.Emit, his son first drove a pop truck for a pop support company and nowis a successful bank employee in the credit and loan department in the bankat Hallock, Minnesota.

When he was young Otto herded cows and did some farm choresat the J. A. Swenson farm and numerous places out of Hallock, Minnesota.

Otto appeared pretty smart when he built himself a divingboard to go swimming.

Otto has contributed many aspects to the surrounding countryside, including many roads so people can travel more smoothly and quickly.Otto has continued to help many people, but because he is getting old hecan not do much for them.


Berg, Otto L., Hallock, Minnesota January, 1971

Burnwall(?), Lilly S., Hallock, Minnesota January, 1971


Lilly S., Hallock, Minnesota January, 1971