March 4, 2019

Skaug Farm

I was raised on the Skaug farm two miles west of Rothsay Minnesota. The Skaug family is a mystery to me, even though I feel intimately connected to them. My grandfather Garnett Johnson share cropped the Skaug farm and was willed the property following Inga Nettie Skaug’s passing. Netti passed while talking over the phone with my grandmother Lovey (Laverne).

Nettie, Ida, two youths unkown, Pauli and unkown Nettie, Pauli, Ida, unknown

Around the age of three or four, I remember visiting Nettie with my grandmother.  I was not allowed to enter the house and had to sit and wait on a chair in the entry. Nettie might have worried that I would break something valuable, or maybe there was fear I would freak out from her taxidermy animals? It’s hard to say for sure.

IMG_1088 IMG_1086


Four of the five Skaug children died on the farm where I was raised and after Nettie’s passing, the Wilken County Historical Society acquired most of the family’s possessions. A few boxes of photographs and records have been passed on to me and I might write a book someday titled; “Skaug Farm” chronicling my research into Hilmer, Pauli, Ida, Inga Nettie and the pipe wrench inventor Johan Skaug and their parents Peter & Olava (Skagness).  IMG_1091Johan Skaug

There are some who considered the Skaugs’ house to be haunted and my mother and I did experience a few extraordinary happenings during our time there.  I hope to someday share what I discover about this talented family and in the process reconnect with my childhood self who will forever cherish his time at the Skaug Farm.

June 16, 2014

The Forgotten River Ways

Filed under: Action — Tags: , , , , , — Ralph E. Cook @ 3:28 am

Often I like to imagine what this area was like before the settlers arrived. There is a rich, but relatively short history to be found here. Most of our communities in Todd and Wadena County were founded 100 to 150 years ago.  Ever think about how humans would navigate this once great Wilderness? Well trails and rivers were their highways and while we may not live in lakes country, thankfully we have the rivers!

A few years back, on a mild November day, my wife and I threw our recently acquired canoe into the Wing River in Hewitt. For nearly three hours we drifted down the river, enjoying the bountiful wild life and vegetation living along this forgotten terrain. I am guessing that it had been awhile since anyone had braved the Wing, with all of the fallen trees and barb wire fences crossing the river. When we left on our adventure that first time, we didn’t even have a plan for how to get back to town, but thankfully we caught a ride home by the county line. Since that initial experience, we have continued to enjoy trips down the river. The head waters of the Wing are located near Parkers Prairie and the river runs to the Leaf River, emptying into the Crow Wing and finally meeting up with the mighty Mississippi. So in theory, you could travel from Hewitt to New Orleans by river!

Rivers have always been great ways to travel, but not that long ago they were also  a clean source of food and water. Over the years we have turned our backs on the health of the environment and the rivers in particular. As the water ways flow through the country side, much like the blood through our veins, the rivers accumulate numerous toxins from a variety of sources. By the time the water from the Wing River reaches the Gulf of Mexico via the Mississippi, the environment there is uninhabitable creating what is considered a “dead zone”.

I would like to see our communities be more conscience of the water sheds we live in.  It is important for us to be aware of what we are draining into the rivers. The first step in accomplishing this is to get out and explore your river ways! The rivers are an untapped recreational resource in our area that are vitally connected to the future health and livability of our region. It is up to us as citizens to care and monitor what is happening with our water supplies. Only the areas of our nation that make a concerted effort to clean up and protect the environment will continue to support a healthy habitat for future generations.


Michael Dagen works and lives in what he calls, “the suburb of Wadena” aka the City of Hewitt. Michael is a song writer, audio engineer, and passionate lover of the outdoors.

Article published in the Wadena Pioneer Journal on June 5th, 2014.

Powered by WordPress