Halstad, Minnesota

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Halstad is a city in Norman County, Minnesota, United States. The population was 622 at the 2000 census.


Geography and cultural history

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 0.3 square miles (0.8 kmĀ²), all of it land.

U.S. Route 75 and Minnesota State Highway 200 are two of the main routes in the community.

The Highway 200 bridge that crosses the Red River was replaced in the early 1970s, after constant flooding found it under water and impassable. Directly across the Red River on the North side of Highway 200, a small pond called Grandin Lake has provided the only close example of a freshwater ecosystem that is not a river. The table top topography of this region is impressive. There are regions of the Red River that have a one inch change in elevation per mile.

The natural history of this area coupled with the widespread drainage of spring runoff, has created a perfect storm scenario. The Red River flows north, is part of a vast watershed, and when out of its banks adds to the overland flooding seen in very few places.

The northwest corner of Halstad was the location of a former creamery. A small hill on the west side provides the only resemblance of an elevation change in the entire town. This location, "Creamery Hill", was a popular spot to sled and ski.

In the 60's Halstad was the home of an outstanding Amateur Baseball team. The grandstand, a classic 7 rows of green painted benches, was the site of games from May to August. During the late 60's a hand operated scoreboard was used. Nine handoperated lights were used to keep track of the balls, strikes, outs, hit/error data.

The original high school, built in 1909, had short stairway to an atria of 4 classrooms. The steps continued up to the second floor with a similar layout. The elementary wing exended to the north of the high school, with windows that faced east, greeting the rising sun over the flat lands of Halstad Township.

The Class of 1952 will always be remembered for their success in basketball and baseball. The book, Pirates on the Prairie is an excellent history of those 7 months in which Halstad was the darlings of Minnesota. Ervin Warner, Kay Kerrigan and other Norman county personalities are described accurately by the author.

The Legion Recreation Center in Halstad, or LRC was the site of live music every Saturday night. Groups like the Uglies, Red Dogs, and the Unchained all played here. The Legionaires who staffed the dances included Johnny Johnson, a veteran of World War I, who dabbed the hands of a generation with an ink only visible under ultraviolet light. Because it was a popular gathering spot, Sunday mornings found some boys walking around the Legion, looking for money that may have dropped from the pockets and hands of the visitors.

The Legion had an active color guard that marched from the High School to a small cemetery northeast of the baseball diamond. Boys Scouts marched as well, decorating the graves of WWI and II veterans with poppies. The retort of the 21 gun salute was always followed with the scramble for the spent shell casings.

Larry Foley, a postal carrier, television repairman, and 1960's version of the Pied Piper, jammed kids of all ages, sizes and baseball abilities most afternoons for a trip to the baseball diamond. The kids traveled in the front, back and open trunk of his car. Each kid, most clads in stiff blue jean pants with cuffs as deep as their joy, would learn how to play "workup," the game that needed no teams nor clock. After an hour or two, the game would disband, the car would again fill up and the game would continue in the back yard of their home. From snowmelt to the start of school, their lawn had 4 spots that never had grass, but served as bases. The sounds of shouting kids, slamming screen doors and the impact of a wiffle ball on a well worn bat, were constants.

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