Courtesy of Alf L. Elden, Oslo, Minnesota. Pictured is my 25 HP Minneapolis steamer taken several years back. The snow is much deeper now than at that time.
It happened on a Tuesday, thirty seven days after the turn of the Century that I came into this wonderful world. I don't know how they turned the Century, whether they used pike poles, or a capstan or hooked on an old steam engine to flip it over, well anyway they got the job done.
Shortly after I came along, Henrik 'kjaeringa' (woman) came running across the field with a kettle of grot (porridge) for my mother and the rest of the family, it was a custom in those days for a neighbor to bring porridge over to the house where a boy had arrived, or soup if it was a girl. This custom was brought over from the Scandinavian countries.
The name of the nearest Post office was Snake, being situated near the Snake river so named because it is very crooked. In the year of 1905 when the Soo Line railroad came thru from Thief River Falls and going West into North Dakota, Alvarado was built, and that was the end to Snake, Minn., and then at the same time 6 miles West, Oslo was built on the banks of Red River, and also on the Soo Line.
My old home place is 3 miles East from Red River, now I live 9 miles S.W. from there, mile East from Red River, have lived here 34 years, and this is the home of the Elden Museum and the Red River Steam Threshing Bee, so this is in the famous Red River Valley, the Bread Basket of the World, with rich black soil, no gravel or rocks. This valley is about 350 miles long, and varying in width from a few miles to about 50 miles, the land is quite level, the slope towards the river is only about 1 foot to the mile and the same Northward, the direction the river flows.
Normally this region will produce abundant crops, but it has also it's drawbacks, as many times we have spring floods, when the river overflows its banks and covers thousands acres of land in Minnesota, North Dakota and Canada. Last spring we had one of the biggest floods in history, and there is a good chance of having one again this spring, because of the weather we are having now. Although we have these spring floods one can usually grow a fair crop the same year.
Today is the 4th of March and we are in the second day of one of the worst blizzards of this Century. March 5th, today is mostly clear, but still storming pretty bad, most highways blocked very many cars stalled on roads several people perished, and many more still missing, no plane and very little train traffic. In the past two days all schools were closed including the Univ. of N. Dakota, in Grand Forks, and most places of business. This storm covered all or parts of several states and a big area in Canada, winds peaked at 51, 55, and 66 miles per hour at Fargo and Grand Forks, N. Dak., Winnipeg, Man., respectively. Around here we received about 29 inches new snow, just heard today this is the worst snowstorm since 1888, in this area. North Dakota was declared disaster area, and 1100 National Guardsmen were called out with bulldozers and other equipment to open roads, bring supplies and do rescue work.
All this snow reminds me of a story I heard many years ago about a big snow winter in the early days in this vicinity. A man living in a low house or cabin, and for chimney he run the stovepipe up thru the roof, when winter come with one big snowfall after the other his house was all covered and up to the top of the pipe so he had to add on more and more lengths of pipe as the snow kept thawing he removed section after section as the snow was melting away, when counting he found he had removed 27 sections of stove pipe.
The summer of the year 1900 was very dry here, no rain for about 3 months so the crop was light, but then in threshing we had very much rain, the fields were so wet and soft that some places they had to set the threshing machine right on the road and thresh. I remember seeing the deep ruts or tracks in the sod not far from the house where the threshing rig had been pulled thru, and this was 12-15 years later.