Grasshopper Corner

by

Valerie Swenson

Lancaster student has essay published in Tales& Trails of the
Heritage Hjemkomst Interpretitive Center and reprinted in
Kittson County Enterprise

In the summer of 1905, farmers in Kittson County knew thatthis wasn't going to be an ordinary summer for wheat fields. A manifestationof grasshoppers would soon oput an end to once lush crops.

Martin Peterson, my grandpa's stepfather, sighted the grasshoppersovertaking of many fields. He, and a few of his friends, devised a planto kill many of these pesky grasshoppers. The farmers in the area noticeda major outbreak of grasshoppers in one particular field. An outfit behindtwo horses, like a trough on wheels, would be used to kill grasshoppers.

The trough was filled with some kind of fuel oil, probablykerosene, and was built to be between eight and ten feet long. The fuelwas stored in the trough. Steel wheels were attached to the trough, andthis machinery was hooked up behind the horses. The two horses would runthrough the field and as they were running, grasshoppers would fall intothe trough.

By the time the horses arrived at the end of the field,the trough with the fuel was full of dead grasshoppers. The farmers standingat the end of the field would dump the trough and refill it with more fuel.The horses took off with a clean tank of fuel to catch more grasshoppers.The grasshoppers were dumped at the end of the field along the Orleans Road.When finished, the piles of grasshoppers were about two feet high and ahalf of a mile long. The grasshoppers weren't burned off after being piledup, so many people came and saw this sight.

Since there were so many grasshoppers in this field lyingdead, people started calling the field and the intersection of that roadGrasshopper Corner. A few years later, a school was built here and was nicknamedthe Grasshopper School. The first school burned down, but another was builtto replace it. Many years later, after this building no longer functionedas a school, the building was moved to Lancastrer and is now owned by TaraStenmark. Many people drive by the Grasshopper Corner today and wonder,when looking at the green and white sign, why would this corner have suchan odd name as Grasshopper Corner. All a person has to say is "Manygrasshoppers were killed there," and they'd be partially right.

When the grasshoppers overtook the crops in the fieldsin the 1930's, farmers had to think of other methods to kill these peskygrasshoppers off this time. Grasshoppers were so severe that they ate fenceposts and anything else they landed on. My grandpa recalls the time whenhe had a suede jacket lying on top of his lunch kit while cutting hay inthe field. After a few hours of cutting hay, he came to eat his lunch, andhe really remembers seeing his jacket full of holes from the gnawing grasshoppers.The grasshoppers enjoyed the taste of salt, so they would eat on table forks,too. The crops in the 1930's were hurt not only by grasshoppers, but alsoby the drought.

In the 1930's grasshoppers were killed off by arsenic.The arsenic was mixed with sawdust and spread over the crops with spreaderspulled behind a tractor. Farmers ended up having quite a bit of arsenicleft over, and they didn't know what to do with this highly toxic chemical.People couldn't get rid of the arsenic, so some farmers buried the arsenicand others wtill have this chemical sitting around in buildings. Many peopletoday are finding different places that the arsenic was buried. Arsenicis a highly toxic chemical that easily pollutes water and the soil.

Today, different kinds of pesticides are used to kill offgrasshoppers. Hopefullly, crops today won't be nearly as bad as they werein 1905 and 1930.

Source: Kittson County Enterprise, October 21, 1998IZE=+1>Source: Kittson County Enterprise, October 21, 1998