Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Lois E Johnson
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

A tribute to vision - the past, future


Lois E. Johnson

An old railroad bridge has been converted into the new 1918 Fire Memorial Pavilion in Automba.

Area residents are invited to attend a special program to dedicate the new 1918 Fire Memorial Pavilion at the Automba community park on Saturday, June 16, at 1 p.m.

Automba, located in western Carlton County, was once a boomtown when the lumber industry was thriving.

"We are going to celebrate the people of the boomtown community of Automba," said Dan Reed, Automba Township Supervisor and organizer of the event. "Automba is a Fox Indian word for 'the meeting place.' Our ancestors came from so far - from all over the world - to meet here and live their dreams."

The pavilion was a special project completed in 2017.

"The successful pavilion project is the stuff that dreams are made of," said Reed. "It was not possible without the support of the old families to buy panels of commemoration. We, as a group of sparkplugs that made this happen, commend you for your vision and your trust. Financial support came from local businesses and corporations through grants and belief in the project."

An old railroad bridge was converted into the main structure of the pavilion. As one views the framework, one can see the riveted beams on the four posts, and the sides of the railroad bridge are featured on each end, supporting the roof.

"A project like this takes vision," said Reed. "As plans were made to build a pavilion, the general thought of the activities was fabricating it out of an old railroad bridge that would serve to highlight Automba as a boomtown.

"I remember the day that Sam Huhta and I sat in his garage, which happened many times, and a concept was in Sam's hands and drawn out. It took drawings from a structural engineer, Joe Litman of LHB in Duluth, and kicking around many ideas before the first piece was cut. The skills of the construction crew made it all happen."

A program, featuring many of the Automba community members, representing the early settlers, will speak as if they were those residents from long ago.

Reed will portray his grandfather, Matt Reed, and others will portray community residents who will tell the story of life in that Polish-Finnish community through the years.

Reed said that descendants of the old families have received special invitations to the dedication and program and are coming from as far away as Indiana and Finland.

"Through my lifetime I have seen the influence of the old families slip away, with only a few of the families living in the area now," said Reed. "This gathering of old families will possibly be the last of its kind."

To reach the Automba park, drive north of Kettle River on Highway 73 for several miles to County Road 6. (Do not turn right on the first County Road 6.) Turn left and follow the paved county road to the townsite.


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