The Rise And Fall Of Pelan

by

Ed Symington

Senior High Division

 

Pelan was a once flourishing town located along the easternboundary of Kittson County. The town itself has come and gone over the years.How it came into existence is an interesting reflection.

In the late 1800's, as the Roseau district was being settled,there was a lot of traffic to the west from the Great Northern Line in KittsonCounty. The western area of the county was thinly populated, but talk ofconstructing a railroad in that area of the county stimulated interest andbrought in more settlers. By 1900, the prospect of a railroad had takenshape and steps were taken to select the best route. The people in the growingyoung town of Pelan made a desperate effort to direct the route of the railroadto its doorstep.

"The village was incorporated as Twin Lake City onApril 1, 1901. Later, the name was changed to honor Charles Pelan, formerlyof Hallock. He was one of the founders." (1) The town site was on thenortheast quarter of section 36, Pelan Township.

There are records to show that certain founders of Pelanwere especially ambitious, and that some of this life blood flowed intoother neighboring towns, through which the Sioux ran. The momentum attainedjust before the town's doom was sealed, was so great that the leaders ofPelan did not acknowledge defeat until some time later.

In the winter of 1905, several months after the Soo Lineroute had not only been planned but had actually been built, the foundationsof new towns were being laid. The Pelan Advocate was the name of the inlandtown's breezy little newspaper. There was not even a hint of havoc wroughtby the building of the railroad, but rather the advertisements conveyeda suggestion of permanency.

Some among those who have lived in Pelan or had homesteadsthere are Bill Johnson's father, Mrs. Carrie Sanner, (who now resides atthe Valley Home in Thief River Falls), and Axel Lofgren of Hallock. Mrs.George McConnachie also lived in Pelan for some time. Her father owned ahotel in Pelan. Axel Lofgren was the county auditor in Pelan for a few years.They experienced a shock when the doors of Pelan started to close. Althoughsome towns lived despite the fact that the railroad never went through them,Pelan just couldn't seem to hold together after the ox carts quite comingthrough this town.

Not very long ago, near Pelan, an archeological find wasdiscovered along Highway 11. The find indicated that people were in thisarea as early as 6,000 B.C. These people were believed to be Palec Indians.

Pelan, had it lived, would have been a very interestingtown. Although much was done to preserve the town, even after it was evidentthat the railroad would not come through it, many were still hopeful rightup until the last. With Karlstad close by, many people moved to this townand made their homes.

As mentioned earlier in the story, Mrs. McConnachie spentquite a few years in Pelan as it was growing up. Her father owned a hotelin the town. For a town to have a hotel and stores it must be flourishing.Where has all this gone? It is hard to know exactly what happened, but ifa town has nothing to attract or keep persons in it, its doors close becausethere is nothing for anyone to do. This is exactly what happened to Pelanand numerous other small growing towns. Will it happen to ours? Not if wecan help it, right?

Bibliography

Enterprise, Kittson County, Anniversary Edition

Johnson, Bill, Humboldt, Minnesota, 56731

McConnachie, Mrs. George, St. Vincent, Minnesota 56755

Sanner, Carrie, Valley Home, Thief River Falls, MN

North Star News, Karlstad, Minnesota

 

(1) Enterprise, Kittson County, Anniversary Edition>

(1) Enterprise, Kittson County, Anniversary Edition