Holdingford Almost Lost Their School; Origin of the City
Holdingford is a small town of 743 people in Central Minnesota approximately 25 miles from St. Cloud, Little Falls and Sauk Centre. Holdingford is featured this time on WJON's Small Town Series. I talked with longtime Holdingford residents Mike Odden and Herman Ebnet. Odden is a former teacher at Holdingford High School and current city council member. Ebnet is the Vice President of the Holdingford Historical Society.
Odden explains that Holdingford got its start in 1865 when Randolph Holding settled on the Ox Cart trail there. The location he chose was on a flat piece of land along a small creek where people could cross, or a ford. The location became known as Holding's ford until 1872 when it became Holdingford and a post office was put in place. Randolph Holding was Irish Catholic.
Holdingford continues to have its own school district despite the size. Many locations in the 1800s and early 1900s had small one room school houses. In the 1960s the state of Minnesota was doing away with these small schools and consolidated many with larger communities in the area. Odden says Holdingford students could have been sent to either Sartell, Sauk Centre or Albany. The Superintendent of schools in the 1960s lobbied successfully at the state legislature to maintain their school district.
Odden says today the school is in great shape with numerous additions over the years and an enrollment of approximately 1200 students. He says they draw many students from rural areas around Holdingford and they also have been attracting more in open enrollment.
Odden says Holdingford over the years has had 4 grocery stores, 2 hardware stores and 3 car dealerships. He says they still have many thriving businesses currently in town and he feels they are experiencing a bit of a rebirth. Holdingford has a rich history of Polish and German immigrants and at one time had Polish and German grocery meat markets.
The Lake Wobegon Trail used often for biking goes right through downtown Holdingford. Odden says the covered bridge on the trail in Holdingford is the longest covered bridge in Minnesota. The bridge was a railroad bridge but former Mayor Rose Mary Scepaniak had the idea to make it a covered bridge. The local Holdingford Lions club raised the money and along with the Army reserve, did the work to complete the project. The current Holdingford Mayor, at the time, was also involved. Odden feels the Lake Wobegon trail from Albany to Bowlus is the most beautiful portion of the trail.
If you'd like to listen to my conversation with Mike Odden and Herman Ebnet it is available below.