During the rapid westward expansion of our nation during the middle of the nineteenth century, a hardy group of pioneers from the state of Maine settled on the lush, green prairie of central Minnesota. A historical marker now stands at the site of the original settlement, near the north end of Lake Carnelian.
The village of Maine Prairie had its rustic beginning in 1856. This pioneer village included churches, stores, two lodge halls, a blacksmith shop and a cheese factory. The village also featured a two-and-one-half story tamarack log fort, which stood just beyond the location of the present granite marker. The fort was built to protect area settlers during the Sioux uprising of 1862. The fort was never attacked. Families and farms soon flourished in the area.
Hundreds of years ago, the location of a railroad could make or break a new community. In 1886 the Soo-Line Railroad decided to bypass Maine Prairie in favor of Kimball Prairie, five miles to the south. The railroad brought about the rapid decline of the older village. Most of the Maine Prairie buildings were moved into Kimball; while the last building burned down in 1919, leaving not a trace of the once prosperous village of Maine Prairie.
With the arrival of the railroad, Kimball Prairie became a regular passenger and freight stop for the shipping of farm products, building materials and merchandise. The railroad also created local jobs, and Kimball Prairie continued to grow. Where there were settlers, there were churches. Often, the churches went up before the houses.
Kimball Prairie’s original school building burned down in 1911. The village promptly erected a large brick structure, which was eventually replaced by the 1989 elementary school facility.
The town hall was constructed in 1908. That building is now on the national register of historical buildings and will be preserved as a national monument. Read more about Kimball’s Historic City Hall here.
A blacksmith shop, livery stable, saw mill, general store, confectionery store, filling station, hardware store and creamery were necessary symbols of work and growth in the city.
During the past century, many businesses have come and gone. New businesses have been established to replace those that disappeared. Today, Kimball Prairie (now known as Kimball) is a modern town with pleasant streets, attractive homes, churches and businesses.