St. James Day, February 11, 2016 27 Jan 14

 

Interviews:

Businesses

– The St. James Public School District is one of the larger employers in town. Their mascot is the Saints.

– St. James is home to several industries. These include: ST Industries, a maker of precision tools; a turkey processing plant; Tony Downs Foods, maker of frozen foods distributed nationwide; Watonwan Farm Service, which deals in farm products; Consumers Supply Corporation, wholesalers of feed-additives, lawn and garden products, and water softener salt; Nelson Hood Exchange, who exchange new and used truck hoods; and Westin Automotive Products, makers of automobile accessories.

– St. James Health Services was awarded a contract with the Veterans Administration in recent years to supply health care to Veterans across southern Minnesota.

 

Festivals and Events

– St. James celebrates its railroad heritage every year with “Railroad Days.” The annual event is held every June and features many fun activities for the whole family. 

– The Watonwan County Fair is held in St. James every July. It is the oldest county fair in the state.

– St. James hosts 4 concerts in the park every summer. One of these concerts is always timed to coincide with the National Night Out festivities.

 

People

– The City of St. James has a population of approximately 4,600 people. The Mayor is Gary Sturm.

– Several years ago Northside Elementary in St. James was struggling so much the state’s education department stepped in. Since then, test scores have risen yearly and the school has improved so much that they were deemed a Celebration School by the Minnesota Department of Education in December. Northside is now on the  brink of Reward School Status, the highest designation a school can achieve.

–The KNUJ Hometown Hero for the month of October was a St. James Police Office who performed living saving efforts. Officer Dallas Stadick of St. James was the first on the scene of an ambulance call for an unresponsive male. After arriving he noticed the man had no pulse and was not breathing. Stadick performed CPR and by the time the ambulance arrived the man was breathing again. Stadick was honored at a luncheon this past fall.

–Josh Hasemen of St. James plans to run against State Representative Tony Cornish. Hasemen is an Army National Guard veteran and member of the St. James City Council. He says funding for schools and roads are his top priorities.

–St. James native and bluegrass musician Becky Buller claimed three awards from the International Bluegrass Music Association in October 2015. She was named Songwriter of the Year, Emerging Artist of the Year and Recorded Event of the Year.

 

History

– The City of St. James was founded in 1870 by the president of the St. Paul & Sioux railroad Company, EF Drake.

– St. James is the county seat of Watonwan County and is located on Highways 4, 60, and 30. Lakes that are in or near town include: St. James Lake, Long Lake, and Kansas Lake, which is 6 miles south of town.

– St. James has a unique story behind how it got its name. General Sibley was a member of the Board of Directors for the railroad. He was given the honor of naming the planned town, and proposed a lengthy Sioux Indian name. The next morning, the president of the railroad, EF Drake, asked Sibley the name he had chosen for the town but he had forgotten it. Rather than have the General go home and retrieve the document that had the name on it, Drake suggested the name “St. James” and the name was agreed upon by the railroad men.

– The town site for St. James was chosen by railroad surveyors who established the halfway between St. Paul and Sioux City, Iowa. A train engine repair center was erected at the site and St. James grew around it. In 1871 when the village charter was established the population was 600.

– Many great and interesting people called St. James their home or business-place.  Among those are Minnesota Governor Hammond and Reverend and Mrs. Theodore Mondale, who are Walter Mondale’s grandparents.

– The first church came to St. James in September 1870, and was Presbyterian. The First Baptist Church of St. James was organized in February 1871 and their church was built in 1872. The Methodist Episcopal Church was also organized in 1871 and built a house of worship in the fall of 1872.

– The first passenger train that came to St. James was on November 22, 1870. It was an excursion from St. Paul consisting of elegant coaches filled with railroad VIP’s.

– In late July of 1873, a plague of grasshoppers appeared in St. James, and across much of Minnesota. Everything in the young village was ruined or destroyed, and the grasshoppers stayed for four long years. When they finally left as suddenly as they came the people were destitute, but the pioneering spirit persevered, and the town was rebuilt.

– In the year of 1896, St. James had more than 100 businesses, including: 4 large hotels, a $35,000 opera house, a modern creamery, a flour mill, 3 carriage and wagon manufacturers, a library of several hundred volumes, 1 cigar factory, a steam laundry, a bottling works, 8 churches, and a modern sewer system.

– By 1940, St. James had grown to a city of almost 3,500 people. The business district included: 10 food stores, 5 general stores, 7 apparel outlets, 2 furniture stores, 7 car dealers, 13 gas stations, 9 lumber and building stores, 11 restaurants, 3 drugstores, 3 hardware stores, 2 music stores, 3 farm seed supply stores, 2 jewelry stores, and 12 other stores.

– The Saluators Railroad Museum Park is located on St. James Lake, across from the Hickory Inn. The park features a 122 year old train depot, track, caboose, switch tower, and sand tank.