The Big Top in a Small Town.

Imagine the excitement when a circus comes to town.  In the days before flyers are posted on poles and buildings, and appear on kitchen tables, having been brought home with eager hope for a trip to the Big Top!

Children hum with anticipation, pulling out any possible coins they may have saved over the year. Businesses plan to close for the day, farmers will do their chores early, the circus is coming, the circus is coming to town!!!

From Water for Elephants

*In 1884 The Col. Giles Great American Two Ring Circus travelled to town, with 65 wagons full of delight for the villagers viewing, parading through town, previewing the coming excitement. They quickly set up, strong men pulling the ropes of the Big Top up above the tall poles. The canvas was set, and the show was on. There were lion tamers, sideshow acts, *candy butchers selling candy, sundries, and souvenirs from stands.  With two big tops the entertainment was doubled. Trapeze acts brought breathless gasps under one tent while dancing elephants with costumed riders entertained under the other. The populace was wowed.

*The next morning the Col. Giles circus loaded back up to head to their next stop in Glencoe, MN.  The wagon that held the lion veered off the road and headed down the hill towards Pigeon Lake.  Luckily the lion did not escape, and was unharmed, and soon the circus was on its way

*Other circuses came to town, WW. Coles, Forepaughs, Sells Brothers, Gollmar Brothers, John Robinson and the Campbell Brothers.  And eventually the Ringling Brothers brought their show to town.

Circus day was a holiday, one looked forward to every year.  An opportunity for just a little bit of tawdry glamour to grace the streets of Dassel.

Circuses have changed over the years; the glitzy appeal has been overshadowed by our awareness of humane treatment of performers and animals alike. We have learned much and changed much. But still, the excitement was an unquestionable part of growing up in a small town many years ago.

Author’s Notes

* Candy Butcher Definition, I was also confused!

*Much information was received from Those were the Days by Oscar Lindquist

*All dramatic interpretation was my own.

Oh, That Mushroom!

The first time I drove through the town of Dassel I immediately noticed the tiny little gas station on the north corner of First Street and Highway 12.

White Eagle Gas
The White Eagle Guards the station!

The building was built back in 1931 by Lewis (aka Louis) Belin. Lewis began operating the station with a lease from White Eagle Oil Corportation.

Lewis was a talented builder. After his brother Walter returned to Dassel in 1931, from working at a San Francisco Shipyard, to take over the running of the station, Lewis began working for Hogenson Construction Company building wooden grain elevators in North American locations. He was able to secure a good living for his wife Clara and their children.


Walter was visited by townspeople in his little station. Neighbors spoke of visiting him in the gas station, listening to the radio, petting his dog Trixie, and marveling at his cluttered roll top desk.

Lewis and Clara’s son, Enus, born in 1925, enlisted at the beginnings of World War II, shipping out on the U.S.S Lindsey. He was killed on April 18, 1945, when his ship was attacked by Kamikaze pilots, two of the planes flying directly into the Lindsey.

Lewis himself worked until his 50s. In 1957 according to his grandson Dave Peterson he passed away soon after cashing his first social security check at the age of 65.

Cars for sale

The station was closed in 1959. After passing through a few more owners the property was sold to Paul Lundeen in 1963. Paul blacktopped the lot surrounding the station and opened the property as a used car lot. And then some more owners; until eventually it was purchased at a public auction by Ken Skalberg and ultimately received by the Dassel Area Historical Society in 2001

Since then, the building has been historically restored, a pump procured for the front and is regularly the site of summer events, concerts, and ice cream socials.

I would enjoy seeing this building restored to an historical aspect of its time as the White Eagle Gas Station. I long to see Walter sitting at his paper cluttered roll top desk, hear the music and news from the radio sitting on the desktop, watch his sweet Springer Spaniel Trixie lolling in the sunny station doorway, and marvel at the eagles watching over our busy town.

Authors note. Lewis’s grandson Dave Peterson stopped into the history center with a replica of one of the eagles in 2002. He also donated many of the photos you see in this posting.

Already Cabin Fever Strikes…Another place to visit this summer!




Porter Sculpture Park

The Battle of Little Big Horn

June 25 To 27, 1876  in Montana Territory.  This posting is not a celebration, so many lives were lost on both sides.  .


Charles Russell


Fort Sissaton Time is Near!!!


Our sure harbinger of spring is nearly here!  Fort Sisseton Chuck Wagon Cook Off at the Fort Sisseton Celebration.   Fort Sisseton Festival   patrick wagon


This is a wonderful event everyone.  It has it all, music, food, horses, mountain men, soldiers, damsels, vendors, entertainers, fun, dancing, SHOWERS!, camping, charming chuck wagon cookies!

Painting at Fort Sissaton Cook Off

Painting at Fort Sisseton Cook Off

Holy Cow! Happy Birthday Calamity Jane!!!

martha canary ( From )

Martha Jane Canary (May 1, 1852 – August 1, 1903 age 51), better known as Calamity Jane, was an American frontierswoman, and professional scout known for her claim of being an acquaintance of Wild Bill Hickok, but also for having gained fame fighting Indians. She is said to have also exhibited kindness and compassion, especially to the sick and needy. This contrast helped to make her a famous frontier figure.


Rainy Days

Smith, George D.
“Elk Hunter in the Thorofare Meadows”Smith - A Rainy Day Fall Elk Hunter In The Thorofare

Fort Sisseton Time Is Nearly Here

FortPrt4For us, the Chuck wagon Cook Off at Fort Sisseton is our true harbinger of Spring.  We delight in the event, in seeing friends we seldom see,friends in camping once more, and even in the hot,

At the fort

At the fort

hard joy of cooking for a crowd!  This June, head on out ya’ll.  It will be spring in South Dakota!!wagon

The Trickster

In honor of April Fool’s Day, here is a look at the original Old West Trickster, Coyote!



Airbrush Paintings – Coyote – The Trickster by J W Baker


geneWe have a good friend named Gene Smith. (AKA; Drifter, Butch, Tootsie).  Drifter passed from this life 3 years past

His personality while on earth was enormous, his love of life immense.  We loved him, still love him.

His wife; Gretchen of the warm and lovely laugh, has had a surprise party for him every year on his birthday since.  Drifter is always there, although I am pretty sure he is no longer surprised.  He is there in the stories of his friends who will always remember him, in the smiles of the bikers, the shooters, the reenactors and all the friends, neighbors and family who had the honor to call him their pard.

We look forward to this years’ celebration in May… be ready.

Previous Older Entries

Coming to Dassel

Meeker County Townships have an incredible History. Follow along to learn more.

Writing about...Writing

Some coffee, a keyboard and my soul! My first true friends!

Tilly Evan Jones

“I want to think again of dangerous and noble things. I want to be light and frolicsome. I want to be improbable and beautiful and afraid of nothing as though I had wings.” ~Mary Oliver

Happy Stuff

Lost Creek

Old West Lore, Old West Leather, Chuckwagons, and More