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Walter Hill Farm

Scott Clow

Walter Hill was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota and lived there for some time. When he was older his father gave him some land in northern Minnesota in the town or Northcote. There he set up an experimental station for new crops and different kinds of cattle.

Walter Hill started his farm in the late 1800's. His father, the late James J. Hill, was the most important man of Minnesota. The reason for being the most important man is that he put the Great Northern Railway through. Walter also had a brother, Louis Hill, who in later years took over his father's place as President of the Great Northern Railroad Company, after his father's death.

The farm was considered the largest farm in the United States at that time. The farm is located north of Hallock in the small town of Northcote, with a population of about thirty people. Walter set the farm up for people from colleges and university around Minnesota to visit it.

Walter Hill did not work on the farm himself. He at first had a foreman run the farm while he lived in Minneapolis, but later he had renters run the farm. The first renter was John Lohr. John Lohr had a large estate in Humboldt at that time. After he started to rent the farm he moved promptly to the farm in Northcote. Mr. Hill sent money to help him to make more improvements on the farm and to run it.

The farm consisted of many large buildings that helped in making the farm more easy to run. Mr. Hill built the buildings on this farm of an expense of about one half of a million dollars. The cattle were stored in a large barn where they stood row on row. There were more cattle barns on the farm that were used for beef cows.

He also had barns for the storage of hay for the animals in these barns. The hay barn looked like a very large pig barn. At the top of these big barns were long electric cables that were used for pulling the hay back into the barn to await the long winter. He also had the same set-up for the storage of the silage. These were only a few of the barns that were used for the strong feed.

Other buildings on the farm were hog sheds. These hog sheds were built so that the pigs could have their young any time of the year.

The horse barns were not far from these barns. During the year they would keep about twenty horses that were used mainly for the farm work.

Across the river were the blacksmith shops. In these shops they repaired the farm machinery and fixed horse harnesses during the winter. And during the summer they used to make horse shoes for the horses.

Farther back they had the bunk house that held the men that worked on the farm. During the summer they kept about twenty men that did the farm work, like seeding, summer fallow, and plowing. During the threshing season they kept about thirty to forty men, but in the winter they only had about ten men. They did such work as feed the cattle and clean out the barns.

On other parts of the yard they had tiled houses for the men that were married and had families.

Across the river are the largest silos in the world. These silos were not used for silage but were used for oats storage. These silos could not withstand the pressure of any other crops so they only stored the light oats.

They also had their own slaughter house to butcher their own beef for the farm's use.

The large house was said to have been built for the purpose of hunting parties that Mr. Hill brought up from the big city. Mr. Hill would go hunting grouse around Humboldt and would take many birds home with him. They said that he would not load his own gun but would hire men to load and reload his gun so he would not waste time.

When Walter Hill owned the farm the people that run it had the first steam engines and the first caterpillars. These machines were used for plowing and other hard work. These were the most powerful machines that was for many years, even though they were very slow. They had two men run the machine when they were plowing. One man on the plow to set the plow into the ground and the other man to drive the machine and put wood into the engine.

Mr. Hill had so much money that he imported great sires from other European countries. These bulls were used for other farmers too so there are still some cattle that were from these bulls.

Later after John Lohr stopped the work on the farm it was sold to Mr. Hubric. After Hubric farmed the land for a while he sold it to Mr. Kienie. Mr. Kienie farmed the land to a great extent and then he sold it to different farmers around here. Now the farm is split up and is owned by other big operators.

Also see Walter Hill