In my travels to learn more about the early brick makers of west central and central Minnesota, I took a trek down United States Highway 10. This time, my trip started out at Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, where I did a little fishing from the public docks along the big lake. Not much biting this time of year, but beautiful temperatures and nice warm sunshine. I can’t go through the Detroit Lakes area without stopping to eat at Zorbaz! After checking out some of the original downtown area, I hopped on 10 and traveled east to Perham. I have spent a lot of time over the years in Perham, as relatives of mine had a lake cabin near there.
Lots of history is evident around Perham, and there are also some new growth areas around the outskirts of town. I knew that Perham had a brickyard in the early 1900s, which was run by Gust Haut. Coming into Perham I spotted an old church and school which appeared to have been built with Haut’s cream-colored Perham brick. Both buildings are vacant and one appeared to be for sale. There are not many old buildings left in town, but there are a few. In traveling through some of the back streets, I also ran across a house that appeared to be made of Perham brick. Most of the buildings in the downtown area are multi-colored, so they are probably made of brick from other areas. There is a nice little historical society in Perham where I stopped and did a little research. They had a display of Perham brick and some old photos of the brickyard.
Moving on down the line, I wanted to stop at Deer Creek, which also had an old brickyard. There is a building in the tiny downtown which used to house the fire hall. This was made of Deer Creek brick and is now used as a museum. I took a quick walk through the museum and then headed for Wadena. I don’t believe there were any brickyards in Wadena, although I cannot say for sure yet. The downtown area of Wadena is pretty large and has many old brick buildings. It is definitely worth coming back at some point in the future as it is a very pretty area. As it was getting late in the day, I still had to push on to Little Falls.
Highway 10 parallels the busy railroad tracks which go from Fargo to Minneapolis/St. Paul. Trains constantly are moving along these tracks, carrying coal and cargo boxes. On the way from Wadena to Little Falls, I followed one long train nearly the entire way, which was pretty cool. Little Falls was home to several large brickyards, one being the Odilon Duclos brickyard. This city is built along the Mississippi River and is also a neat historic spot. Again the Little Falls brick were cream-colored, and there are a lot of buildings in the original downtown area that appear to be made from them. Driving around the back streets, there are also quite a few old brick homes. I would like to come back to Little Falls again and stop at the historical society to find out more information on the local brick makers.
Getting up the next morning, I moved on down to my last stop…St. Cloud. St. Cloud has almost become a suburb of the Twin Cities and has areas of large growth and expansion. Finding your way to the original downtown can take a while! However, the trip is worth it. There are a multitude of old brick buildings downtown built from the St. Cloud cream-colored brick. Once you get away from the downtown area, there are also a large number of houses built of St. Cloud brick. I was amazed. You literally turn down any street in the older parts of town and find multiple old brick homes. Sadly, many of them are built near St. Cloud State University and are in a run-down state. As you near the university, there are huge old brick homes that line the streets. It is really an amazing place, well worth another trip now that I know what to expect.