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Pelan Pioneer Park’s buildings moving to a new home

A crew gets in position to lift the steeple off of the Pauli Lutheran Church located at the Pelan Pioneer Park off Highway 11 between Greenbush and Karlstad. Buildings at this park are being moved down the road to Wagon Wheel Ridge, home of the country music, Kick’n Up Kountry, located about a mile west of Karlstad. (photos by Ryan Bergeron)

This Soo Line Depot was moved from Karlstad to Pelan Pioneer Park in 1980, but now the building has been jacked up and moved off its foundation before being moved back to the Karlstad area. At its last annual meeting on March 13, 2018, the Dewey Township, controlling Pelan Pioneer Park, approved allowing Glen Brazier to have all the Pelan Pioneer Park buildings moved from their current site to Wagon Wheel Ridge, due the buildings’ lack of current usage.

Mary Ann Johnson and her late husband Kenneth or “Kenny” both participated in “The Pelan Players,” a group of local talent who staged outdoor dinner theatres in July or August on a platform, or stage, attached to the Soo Line Depot building at Pelan Pioneer Park (located off Highway 11 between Greenbush and Karlstad, Minn.) from 1984 to 1994 and 1997. Kenneth acted in the plays and Mary Ann took on the role of stage manager, sometimes even offering various sound effects, such as “boos” and hisses.”

The whole Johnson family, including their six children at one point, was involved with these plays and the family remained so from the beginning until the end.

“They said it should have been called the Johnson play,” Mary Ann said with a chuckle.

Compared to those earlier years, the park has been quiet recently.

At its last annual meeting on March 13, 2018, the Dewey Township, controlling Pelan Pioneer Park since July 2010, approved allowing Glen Brazier to have all the Pelan Pioneer Park buildings moved from their current site to Wagon Wheel Ridge, home of the country music festival Kick’n Up Kountry, located about a mile west of Karlstad off Highway 11. A couple weeks ago, crews began jacking up the buildings, beginning the journey to their new home.

Dewey Township Clerk Kurt Stenberg said the township decided to do this for one main reason– these buildings were not getting used and in turn were deteriorating.

“We figure ‘why not?’ The buildings will get some use,” Stenberg said.

As these buildings continue to be moved off their foundations and eventually carried to their new homes, The Tribune decided to take this time to look back at some of the site’s history—even before these buildings came to reside there. It includes events that took place out there, ones that brought in hundreds and even thousands of people, and the memories from a local who spent much time out there—Mary Ann Johnson.

To see the full story, read the April 4 issue of The Tribune, or to see part one of the story, read the April 5 issue of The North Star News, either in print or online. Watch for another update on these buildings in both papers, as well part two of this story in next week’s issue of The North Star News. 

5 Comments

  1. John Fatland on April 6, 2018 at 4:25 pm

    My wife and I were part of audiences for Tom Sawyer yrs back, her Uncle Joe was the Sheriff!

  2. Shelly holter on April 15, 2018 at 10:56 pm

    Maybe the School house should have been offered to the Klegstad families who’s grandfather/father helped to build it and move the building to the park in the first place.

  3. Carol Tillberg on April 15, 2018 at 11:58 pm

    My great uncles, Nils and Osten Pladson built this church, with community help, of course. Osten carved the alter, railing,and baptismal font. He lived in Hatton, N.D. Nils and his family lived in Pelan till the town dissolved. They built many churches in our area as well as North Dakota. Osten carved many altars, fonts,and railings using a foot pedal lathe. One church from Goose River, N.D. was donated to the Vesterheim Norwegian Museum in Dacorah, Iowa and is a main part of their museum complex. The town of Hatton has a park with an amazing cabin built by Osten. Their sister, Margot was married to Evan Bendickson and lived in Badger, Mn. I have many pictures of them building churches and carving the alters.

  4. Emily Dalager on April 20, 2018 at 9:55 am

    This is outrageous and overreaching. The reason being “why not”? How about why? This is a long established park and those buildings were not put there to be used in any sort of practical or pragmatic way but rather to be seen and enjoyed by the public. And Dewey township board just GAVE the publicly held buildings away? Isn’t Kickin’ Up Country a private entity? Will folks be charged to see the buildings now? This decision is questionable at best and very foolish to say the least. I question the motives of the decision makers. Everything should be restored to how it was. If “use” or money for restoration are the issues then let it be known so the public can have the opportunity to provide that before this draconian measure was taken. I don’t believe that this action was so urgently and desperately needed such that gutting and desecrating this public space was the only option. Fools.

  5. Emily on May 11, 2018 at 3:01 pm

    Sad to see it go it’s been located by my Grandpa house the last 38 years. They building are in good condition moving them so they will be “used” will end in them being wrecked.

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