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April 23: Years Ago…
Years Ago

‘Years Ago’ is a compilation of newsy tidbits as published in the Crawford County Independent & Kickapoo Scout on this week ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty or sixty years ago.


APRIL 22, 2010 – Len Harris shares a recent experience while trout fishing, when he saw some marigolds growing near the bank and went to explore. Apparently there was a spring at the bankside where the flowers were flourishing. He soon found himself in mud up to his waist and fought for 20 minutes to free himself to the stream bank. He felt he would have been sucked under into the mud had he not been wearing a wading belt with his waders. Len reminds readers to wear a wading belt while trout fishing, as there is a large chance of coming across deep water that had not been there the year before. Without a wading belt, waders will fill up with water and drowning could easily occur.


APRIL 20, 2000 – Mike ‘Mick’ Killoy, Boaz, was accidently shot by a 13-year-old hunting companion, while turkey hunting on property located on Dieter Hollow Road. Killoy was hunting with the youth and his father who are from Mt. Calvary, Wisconsin. The group was attempting a drive when the accident occurred…At the annual Spring Ball at Sannes Skogdalen Nursing Home the 1999 King and Queen, Earl Glass and Fern Jones, passed on their crowns to this year’s royalty, Queen Bernilda Lee, who was escorted by her daughter, Janet Teach, and King Melvin Runice, who was escorted by his wife, Helen. Other members of the royal court were Ethel Maybee, Mabel Nelson, Bill Groh and Ben Ward. Amid decorations with a Hawaiian theme, many danced to the music provided by the Jim Gorman Trio.


APRIL 26, 1990 – A federal court ruling on the LaFarge dam project has made completion of the proposed flood control structure more likely than any time since the project was halted nearly 20 years ago. A U.S. District Judge denied a motion from the federal government and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that would have cut short the lawsuit brought by those who want the dam completed. The lawsuit was filed by Vernon County, two rural Kickapoo area towns and the late Martha Driscoll. The Driscolls once owned farmland that the federal government bought for the flood project. The land was part of some 9,000 acres that was removed from the tax rolls to have been used for the $15.6 million dollar dam and lake. In fact, nearly 100 farm families were uprooted to make way for the structure. Although some work was done, the dam was never finished and the land sits idle, grown to brush and weeds. Concerns about costs and possible environmental damage halted work on the structure in the 1970s.     


APRIL 24, 1980 – Fire destroyed two buildings on Main Street in Gays Mills. Hillman’s Tavern and the Gays Mills Public Library were reduced to charred ruins by the fires. The total losses are estimated at $100,000……..Twenty-five cars of a northbound Burlington Northern freight train were derailed at 2:30 p.m. Friday, three miles north of Ferryville. One of the cars spilled its load of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, and another was filled with liquid fertilizer, but fortunately did not spring a leak. Two loads of sand were brought in by the Crawford County Highway Dept. to create a dike to contain the spill of granulated nitrate. The spill occurred when the seal on the hopper car broke and spilled into the slough of the Mississippi River between the railroad tracks and Highway 35. 


APRIL 22, 1970 – The entire Kickapoo River canoe trail is open, it was reported this week by the Kickapoo Valley Association. Sections have been cleared by various volunteer KVA members and park personnel from Ontario Bridge No. 5 to LaFarge on to Soldiers Grove, with a portage trail established south of bridge No 23. From Soldiers Grove to Wauzeka, a crew under the leadership of Gerald Schoville has the river in good shape for canoeing… Among artists whose work was recognized at the Southwest Wisconsin arts and crafts show at Prairie du Chien were LaVon Swiggum, Gays Mills, a collage, ‘Those Were the Days,’ Marlene Meyer, Gays Mills, a collage, ‘Environment,’ and Sara Rath, Boscobel, a block print of owls.  


APRIL 1, 1960 – Amel and Ruth Oppriecht of the Fortney Hardware Company, Gays Mills, extend a welcome to all area residents to attend their open house this Saturday. The hardware store, Gays Mills’ third oldest business firm, sports a new look these days as the store has been remodeled. Clerks at the store in addition to Amel and Ruth are Harland Hays and Joe McGinley. John Tully, a plumber apprentice, is commencing his second year with the store. Clerking on Saturdays and during summer vacation will be Rodney Opppriecht, a freshman at LaCrosse State College.