The Following is part of a series about Viking, Minnesota. Please watch for
future columns on my home town prior to our Centennial this summer July 29-31st.
Earl and Joyce Erickson are long-time residents of Viking, Minnesota. They’ve
seen much of Viking’s history and so I approached them to share it with me. Remember this is recollected history so
some of the dates are approximate. Memorizing dates isn‘t history, it’s the people and their stories that make
history. Joyce’s brother, Wayne Hanson, recently joined Earl, Joyce and myself for a nice afternoon of remembering old
Viking and huge cups of Joyce’s delicious coffee.
Joyce and Earl Erickson lived the farm life, raising Guernsey cows and kids
just off Highway One. Joyce and Earl began their lives together at a time when Viking was a bustling agricultural town. It
was the early fifties and the Viking creamery made butter until larger bulk plants made the little creamery close it’s
doors in 1961. Henry Sustad managed the Viking Livestock Association which provided a central drop-off for cattle, horses
and even donkey’s. Standing at the stockyards sixty years ago you could have walked to one of Viking’s four elevators.
Those elevators now are gone and the rough cut lumber from the stockyards became part of Earl’s barn.
Joyce’s brother, Wayne, filled in as depot agent at the Viking Depot in
1952 and ‘53. The depot received telegraph messages, bulk fuel and sold passenger tickets during the war years. A lot
focused around the railroad back then because roads were questionable especially after rain or in the Spring. Dale Anderson
was always known to me as a solitary bachelor but back then served as unofficial ambassador and met the new arrivals to the
Viking Depot. Dale and the Depot are now gone but you can visit the Depot at the historical village in Thief River Falls,
Mn. The early fifties changed Viking’s dynamic when steel for an oil pipeline arrived at the Viking Depot. The pipeline
and it’s nearby pumping station created a Viking subdivision of square two-story homes just a mile to the West. The
rail was a means for transport but it seems was also a catalyst for change.
Viking was always a working man’s town but we liked to play a little too.
I asked Joyce about entertainment of the past and she produced tangible proof that Viking residents liked a little fun. Joyce
brought out a framed poster advertising a wrestling match courtesy of Viking promoter C.O. Kulseth.
The poster featured grappler L.C. Curtis of Bemidji, Minnesota. According to
the poster, Mr. Curtis had agreed to “throw” Thure Blomberg of nearby Numedahl Township and Martin Sjostrand of
Viking. The date was February 25, 1922 and it must have been a huge event.
We lose a little of our history every day. Histories’ gold mines sit in
retirement homes and some will carry their wealth to the grave. My visit with Joyce, Earl and Wayne was a rich vein of history
so please watch for more about Viking, Minnesota-one hundred years in the making.