Ridgeway’s Sesquicentennial

—150th Celebration to be held June 3, 2017


Part 1
Ridgeway - The town of Ridgeway was started because the railroad was built between Calmar and Cresco.
In about 1866 the railroad company built a small house for their accommodation. Mr. Pike and his wife moved into the house Dec. 4, 1866.
In July 1867, J.L. Flowers of Fort Atkinson came to Ridgeway and built a grain warehouse. He was soon followed by Gilchrist & Co. who built another warehouse. Soon others came to start other businesses. At a special meeting of stockholders, directors and principal officers of the railroad company in the summer of 1867, a bill favoring the building of a depot at this place, Ridgeway, was introduced and after considerable discussion carried and an appropriation of $257.75 was voted for that purpose. The seventy-five cents was specified for repairs on the platform already standing.
About that time Mr. S. Pike sent in a petition to the Postmaster General stating the names of all the men in the township, for a Post Office. A petition met with prompt attention and by the time business opened, Ridgeway had a Post Office.
Mr. Pike received the appointment of Postmaster with a salary of $12 per year.
Dr. A.M. Blackman who with W.H. Allen of Beloit, Wis. came in October 1876, and put up a large building for a drug store and a dwelling. Allen had established a lumberyard, set a force at work to build another large building for a general merchandise store which was soon filled by D.C. Monty from Conover. More family dwellings were built.
The next year several grain warehouses were built. Later Dr. George Bolles of Decorah bought the store from Allen. The Post Office was also in this store. Dr. Bolles had the store for five years and then sold it to J.I. Ringstad. The Post Office remained in this building and at this time he was paid a respectable revenue.
On May 9, 1874 a fire swept through Ridgeway. It seemed for a time to wipe out the whole village. A continuous blast from the south swept the square taking everything in line of the wind. About four-fifths of the businesses of the town were in ashes. Besides the business row and dwellings, four grain warehouses, the depot and a fine water tank, which the railroad had just completed, burned.
The total amount of buildings - stores, saloons, dwellings and barns burned were 34, leaving 59 unburned. Being most dwellings and outbuildings.
Immediately after the fire the Railroad Company built a new depot. A much bigger and better with ample room for every department of business. The water tank was also rebuilt.
The freight and passenger trains were very important to the people of Ridgeway. People could go to Cresco or farther, even to Minneapolis by train until the 1960s. Things like grain, butter, eggs, etc. were sent to places by rail. Things like coal and lumber were shipped to Ridgeway.
{Editor’s Note: Look for more information on Ridgeway’s upcoming Ses-quicentennial Celebration, scheduled for June 3, 2017.]

Cresco Times

Phone: 563-547-3601
Fax: 563-547-4602

Cresco TPD
214 N. Elm Street
Cresco, IA 52136

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