Weather aids in changing face of Spring Valley
Tuesday, July 29, 2014 8:25 AM
The crops around Spring Valley look excellent compared to corn and bean fields not too far away. We will hope that hail or drought or whatever will not keep our farmers from harvesting a bumper crop this fall. Rain, which has prevented many area farmers from planting, sometimes at all, seems to have abated a bit.
However, looking back to the 1930s, some of the floods that occurred in Spring Valley were quite devastating. Photos shown here may date to about 1939. In Photo #1 the photographer is facing east standing next to the building east of the Carnegie Library (now city hall). Across the street to the left, out of sight, would be the Marchant Garage and we are looking at the Main Street bridge inundated by flood waters.
At the upper left is the Hande Hardware store which was on the northwest corner of Main & Section Avenue from 1874 to 1921 and later housed many businesses over the years, but is now a small green space south of our present light plant. At one time this building was the site of one of the many service stations - the Tydol station, later a Shell station. Knut Hande emigrated from Norway as a youth, came to Spring Valley, married Marit Brandt. He partnered with C.C. Sheldon to open the hardware and blacksmith shop seen in the picture. He also bought a house and barn at 304 E. Church Street where their children, Carl and Emma, grew up.
At center we can see the Milwaukee train depot, now the site of O'Connell Excavating & Plumbing. At right, of course, are buildings that once lined the south side of Main Street but only one remains — the Bait Shop. Once we knew them as home to George Kaess Electric, Gay Caflisch's blacksmith shop, Delores Calhoun's Waterfront Cafe, Darrell Vikse's antique shop, and others.
In Picture #2 the photographer is looking southeast at the South Broadway Bridge. At left, the white house is still standing. The water tower, built in 1911, was taken down in 1993 after the new one was built at the north end of town. The Milwaukee railroad tracks required a full stop to "Stop, Look & Listen" and those tracks were removed in the 1970s. Below the water tower one can see Henry Kruegel's Mill Works, at present not being utilized. Kruegel opened the mill about 1911 where he made cupboards, window screens and frames, and repaired wagons, buggies and farm equipment. He lived to be 101, and was the first resident in the new 50-bed nursing home which opened in 1976. To the right is the Kruegel home which was taken down several years ago as part of the flood buy-out program. That site is now a green space. Henry Kruegel's wife, Sophia, made a lovely quilt which has her name embroidered on it, and can be seen in one of the bedrooms at the Washburn-Zittleman historic home. If memory serves, Henry's son, Leo, and wife Dorothea, moved in with him when his wife died, and first operated their LP gas business right off the front porch. They later built the expansive facility on Pleasant Avenue, and the business is now in the hands of the third generation — Leo, Lyle and now Todd.
At right is a fascinating sign, for Mobilgas which also contains the word Wedhams. About 1929 Herman Lundby moved his business from Ostrander to Spring Valley and operated south of the bowling alley at that time. In the early 1940s he had tired of the frequent flooding, and moved his business to a new building on Highways #63 & 16, the present Zeimetz Motors site. We do not know if this sign indicates his business — any suggestions? Another sign has to do with credit cards.
Oh yes, the face of Spring Valley changes from one year to the next and old photos tell many stories. As you peruse your old photo albums, keep the local historical society in mind — we would value any photos we could copy and return to you. Thank you!