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Granite Falls Advocate Tribune - Granite Falls, MN
  • To the Editor: Milwaukee Road site in Monte worth saving

  • Ed Note: The article in the Montevideo American News that the letter writer refers to can be found on page 3B of this issue of the Advocate Tribune. Reading the article in the Montevideo American-News last week, one might think the Milwaukee Road Heritage Center (MRHC) asked Kevin Wald and Ritalka Inc. to come to t...
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  • Ed Note: The article in the Montevideo American News that the letter writer refers to can be found on page 3B of this issue of the Advocate Tribune.
        Reading the article in the Montevideo American-News last week, one might think the Milwaukee Road Heritage Center (MRHC) asked Kevin Wald and Ritalka Inc. to come to the group's aid.
        Nothing could be further from the truth. Mr. Wald came to the MRHC to see if there was a possibility of co-locating his business on the property we lease from the city of Montevideo. Mr. Wald told me that he wanted to build an 80-foot-by-120-foot building on the extreme north side of the property and install his own switches and rail to allow him access to the Twin Cites & Western Railroad.
        His talk of rehabilitating our track and turntable sounded promising until he and I started walking through the yard with his engineers, who began talking about using the roundhouse and turntable. They talked about altering the size of the historic roundhouse and digging up the concrete foundation we had just poured a few years ago so as to make way for the building Mr. Wald wanted to build.
        He had apparently abandoned the 80-foot-by-120-foot building he had originally proposed to build well away from our historical buildings.
        Mr. Wald also decided he could use the existing corrugated metal engine house and lengthen it to save money. I told him this was not acceptable     
        Mr. Wald does not seem to understand that the history of the Milwaukee Road is worth preserving.
        There are few rail facilities and historic structures remaining along the former Milwaukee Road route to the Pacific Northwest, but communities such as Deer Lodge, Mont., and Cle Elum, Wash., are working to preserve what they have because of their historical significance. Just as the MRHC is working to preserve them here in Montevideo.
        The turntable, one of only three of its type remaining on the former Milwaukee Road system, needs to remain here in the yard, unaltered, as does a roundhouse rebuilt to its original appearance. Not only will it house some of the hundreds of items in storage now that should be on display, but it will also be available for civic and private functions.
        The railroad helped build Montevideo. It brought people and goods to the area, and provided a means for farmers and business people to market their goods and products to the outside world.
        So the MRHC has chosen to stand its ground to protect itself and the history it has worked so hard for the past 21 years to preserve. We hope Mr. Wald will build his business on one of the other four locations available locally and leave the preservation of history to the MRHC.
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    James Ruether
    President Milwaukee Road Heritage Center
    Montevideo

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