This is a mural of the North Redwood Depot painted on the side of a Sears Building in Bay City, Michigan!

Richard Sears and North Redwood Falls!

Richard W. Sears -- History


Sears founder North Redwood’s claim to fame

August 31, 2015
By Ellayne Conyers , Marshall Independent

How would it feel to go to bed one night in one town and wake up the next morning in another? Aliens from outer space cannot be blamed for such an occurrence - only the city fathers from twin towns. On Dec. 30, 1996, North Redwood ceased to be a town in southwestern Minnesota, merging with that of Redwood Falls.

Since the early 1880s, settlers of Redwood County had been vying for a railroad line to connect them with larger cities to the east. The county's third railroad, the Minneapolis and St. Louis, laid out in 1884, was responsible for the platting of North Redwood. The extension was given the name of Wisconsin, Minnesota and Pacific Railway Company - financed on Rock Island capital. Redwood Falls businessmen counted on this line to run through the county seat, but it is believed that the lack of financial assistance from this community, in order to build a depot, caused the rail line to be laid below Redwood Falls. The railroad then built a depot (on the present site of North Redwood) and called it Redwood probably as a sort of appeasement for bypassing the village on the hill. J.S.G. Honner surveyed land for a plat in 1884 and laid out a town site around the Redwood Depot. In August of 1885, the village was named North Redwood (the depot remained Redwood). The telegraph arrived and so did a young depot agent by the name of Sears.

Thus, North Redwood's great claim to fame came through a man for whom the village was home during a particularly important part of his life. He was Richard W. Sears, the 23-year-old depot agent. Outside of becoming a telegrapher at age 16, he had done nothing outstanding in his life before 1886. The story goes that a Redwood Falls jeweler refused a consignment of watches he said he hadn't ordered, and young Sears got permission to peddle them to fellow depot agents. He ordered more and netted $500 in six months, but more important, he had worked out the germ of an idea that selling by mail could be big business. He soon quit the railroad and opened a watch business in Minneapolis. By 1887 he moved his business to Chicago, taking on as a watch repairman, Alvah R. Roebuck. With Roebuck as a partner the company sent out a mail-order catalog. By the turn of the century Sears Roebuck and Company was doing a $10,000,000 yearly business. Sears died in 1916, but the company continued and that small enterprise he began in a small village in southwestern Minnesota had by 1960 grown into a $4,500,000,000 business.

Around the turn of the century, Richard Sears purchased several thousand acres of land in Redwood County, returning money to the county where he got his start. He then took William H. Gold as a partner and on a 600-acre farm section 15 and 16 of Vail Township they developed a purebred herd of Holsteins, purchased largely in New York. Following recommended testing procedure, they built their herd into national prominence. Sears died in 1916, and much of the land was sold to farmers moving in from Illinois. The herd was transferred to a Gold farm in Redwood Falls Township and sold in 1918.

And so, the little town of North Redwood, that fostered a world-famous entrepreneur, has ceased to exist.

SOURCE:"The Story of a County," by Wayne E. Webb, 1964.

and now the rest of the story......9-1-15

The aliens from MPCA caused the merger of Redwood Falls and North Redwood. North Redwood now pumps wastewater (sewage) from the glacial river bed (North Redwood) up to the glacial river beach (Redwood Falls) on top of the bluff for treatment, rather than sending untreated sewage directly in to the Minnesota River. Once treated up on the glacial river beach, it is then returned downhill to the remnant trickle of a river that flows through the glacial river bed. The coalition of spatial community fathers (and mothers) found a political solution (merger) to have wastewater flow up hill and remove North Redwood from the MPCA’s #1 ranking as a municipal polluter. Many of those spatial community leaders were Blandin Community Leadership Program graduates, who had been trained to lead with resolving community issues in ways that will make our communities healthier. The strange thing is that, although merged into one legal entity, due to the location of North Redwood in the glacial river bed below the glacial river beach on which Redwood Falls sits, the two communities will never be terrestrially even; forever remaining separate, but spatial connected neighborhoods, as beaches always are from the river’s hard bottom. North Redwood will always be North Redwood, below in the glacial river bed and Redwood Falls will be Redwood Falls on the glacial river beach above. Life above on the glacial river beach is like any other neighborhood in SW Minnesota. But life in the glacial river bed is a unique natural experience. When the 10:00 PM whistle blows on the beach above, it awakens the “North Redwood Choir” for an evening howling performance…..a daily reminder that North Redwood will always be North Redwood, no matter what direction our sewage flows or what the legal merger papers say or who the train depot agent was over a century ago. And that is the rest of the story…… Loran Kaardal former North Redwood mayor