DUELM -- Today we are learning about the Benton County ghost town of Duelm. Benton County Historical Society Executive Director Mary Ostby says even though everyone knows where it is and you can still go there, it is technically considered a ghost town because it was a settlement that was never incorporated.

If you look at a map of Duelm today and compare it to the Platt map of the town from 1909 they look pretty much the same. The exception is that the creamery no longer exists.

Duelm Creamery, Benton County Historical Society

It was started in about 1863 by Clement Hunck along the very popular old wagon road that ran between Princeton and Sauk Rapids. He built what we call today a sort of travel plaza.

A show palace.  It was stables, it was a saloon, it was a great big travel stop.  It was one of the more immaculately kept properties out there.  So everybody made sure they would stop on the way to get food or rest their horses.

The old wagon road is today's Benton County Road 48. In 1933 Highway 95 was built and that replaced it as the main route through the area.

Mr. and Mrs. Hunck, Benton County Historical Society

Ostby says Hunck ran his showplace for about 30 years before selling it and moving away in 1908.

Joe Dierks ran the store until he sold it to the Chiemielewski family around 1936.

Over time the business evolved adding a food and liquor license becoming what we now know today as Jack & Jim's. While the building still sits in the same location, Ostby says she is not sure if any of the original structure remains.

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Another mainstay is the church of St. Lawrence that was founded in 1863. Ostby says they've had a few different buildings over the years with the current one built in the early 1980s. It is one of the oldest Catholic parishes in all of central Minnesota.

In fact, in the 1920s they had a heck of a baseball team.  The church also over the years ran a huge 4th of July celebration with chicken dinners.

St. Lawrence Church, Benton County Historical Society

Once a month Ostby comes on the News @ Noon show on WJON and talks about the forgotten history of Benton County.

Benton County Historical Society

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