Upper Broadway, Spring Valley, about 1923.
Upper Broadway, Spring Valley, about 1923.
A mystery: This photo was taken in the 1920s and why does downtown Broadway look twice as wide as it does today? There seem to be ample sidewalks, streetlights, diagonal parking on both sides of the street and lots of room for two-way traffic. There is even a planter full of flowers, plus some kind of a sign, right in the middle of the intersection.

At the left on Courtland Street is what for years was the location of Ella Higgins' newspaper and magazine shop that sold all manner of print, but there appears to be a different contraption there now. Mike Molstad's store on the corner boasted a big Battle Ax Plug Tobacco sign that we can't see on the south wall, but is very visibly restored today.

At right is First State Bank, erected at a cost of $18,500. Its handsome facade which boasted "Erected AD 1889" disappeared over the years. Under the direction of Strong, Farmer & Edwards, the bank was a stalwart firm for 40 years until the Panic of 1929, when it folded. Following the depression years, John N. Osterud bought the property for his Security Finance business and for many years it was known as the Security Building. In 1934, Osterud founded Home Federal Savings & Loan and the building was later remodeled into an efficient modern bank.

The water fountain at right was a delightfully refreshing stop, at least into the 1940s and maybe later. Its overflow supposedly flowed downhill to the horse-watering trough in the livery stable yard to the east.

The clock was also a "landmark" on Broadway until Home Federal moved to its new site on the corner of Highway 63 and Tracy Road.

In an L-shape around the bank on its north and east sides was the Halbkat General Store. The canopy states "Dry Goods, Shoes, Groceries." The entrance on Broadway led to the dry goods section with stairs to the mezzanine where ladies' garments were displayed. The east end housed the household and grocery departments. John Halbkat was a third-generation storekeeper and held sway at this location for over 50 years.

Note the dirt street; we hope the water wagon made regular passes in dry weather. I'm told a certain gentleman made faithful rounds to scoop up the horse manure deposited by the teams that came to town every day.

This era saw the introduction of the horseless carriage and we can see a variety of automobiles on "Main Street." A Spring Valley Mercury newspaper, c. 1923, was proof of the popularity of this new fad. At least ten ads mentioned automobiles or accessories as follows: l) At Jacob Kulzer's Good Year Service Station, he was selling Royal Cord Tires; 2) Penns. Vacuum Cup Cord Tires ad; 3) Keune & Son Chevrolet Sales & Service; 4) Standard Oil Co. of Chicago, Ill., bragged on gasoline and lubricants of highest quality and lowest market prices; 5) A Studebaker Light Six Touring Car at $995 was available at Martin & Schroeder, Grand Meadow, and C.E. Lawrence, Spring Valley; 6) R.A. Eby was selling the Good Maxwell five-passenger sedan at $1,470 to the touring car for $975; a little pricier was his Chalmer - a roadster at $1,305 to the seven-passenger sedan for $2,285; 7) Johnson Motor Co. offered the "Ford Weekly Purchase Plan - $5 a week starts you toward ownership of any Ford car, truck or Fordson tractor;" 8) Standard Oil Co. Red Crown high-grade gasoline was available at eight locations: Johnson Motor Co., M.E. Molstad, J.W. Scheevel, Chris Pietenpol at Cherry Grove, W.J. Deaver & Son, Racine, A.W. Kummer, Racine, Herman Lundby and Halling Bros. at Ostrander. 9) Also at Ostrander, Herman Lundby boasted the Buick, "The Standard of Comparison." 10) If you needed a loan for a car, you could try First National Bank with capital of $50,000; or First State Bank seen in the photo, which promised "Friendly, cordial banking service."

Other advertisers? Spring Valley Bakery - "Home of Everything Good That's Baked." McConnell & Farnsworth were listed as electrical contractors who sold Edison Mazda lamps for every fixture. The Southern Minnesota Light & Gas Co. featured electric fans to keep you comfortable, both oscillating and stationary kinds. At the Maust Feed Barn, weekly auctions were "commanded" by Col. Hilmer, this week featuring 18 Duroc Jersey bred sows, six spring yearlings, and 12 fall gilts.

Train service was splendid: On the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul line, passenger trains went east at 8:45 and 12:40; west at 10:24 and 2:28. The Chicago Great Western was going north - passengers 4:59 a.m., 9:21 a.m. and freight at 11:55 a.m.; going south - passengers at 5:11 p.m., 10:30 p.m. and freight at 7 a.m. Ed Kavanagh offered "Passengers and baggage delivered to any part of the city." Other dray lines: C.D. Washburn "will transfer light packages, bundles and baggage to all parts of the city." Mark Rafferty owned the Spring Valley Dray Line - "draying, hauling, transferring and moving; all orders promptly attended to." At the City Dray Line, H.A. Farnsworth did "all kinds of dray and transfer work - furniture and piano moving carefully done."

The North Side Dairy delivered pure clarified milk and cream to your doorstep. Benson's Modern Shoe Shop declared, "A new pair of soles and rubber heels will make you happy - did you ever happen to think your feet are your best friends? Aren't they entitled to more comfort? Bring me those shoes." At the Cash Supply Store, Freeman & Son stated, "We buy for cash and sell for cash - bring us your eggs and produce."

Think I'll take in my shoes and make my feet happy - sounds like a great idea for the coming Ag Days celebrations!

Stop by the museums on West Courtland Street and learn more about Spring Valley history with the great guided tours. See you there!