History of Amiret, Heckman Siding

Two additional villages that came into being because of the Chicago Northwestern Railroad were those of Amiret and Heckman Siding. A division of this railroad, known as the Winona and St. Peter line, was responsible for the establishment of 11 communities along its 57.3 miles of track between Tracy and Gary, S.D.

A sidetrack for the unloading of supplies was laid in 1872, the year the railroad came through at the present site of Amiret. The first town site was laid out in 1857, long before the railroad came, and was named Saratoga. Then in July of 1872, a post office was established and called Coburg in honor of the pioneer “storekeeper,” William Coburn. Coburn first erected a store on Section 19 of the township, but within a short time he moved the building to Saratoga station in Section 32 where he conducted business at his store and post office until June of 1875. Then he again move his buildings back to the original location because the railroad company had surveyed and platted the village in the fall of 1874. After a grasshopper plague depopulated Coburg, Mr. Coburn moved away and the post office was discontinued. After the grasshoppers left, the deserted village came alive again, and the Coburg post office was re-established in 1878 and a few businesses were added.

Are you confused? Even the mail service became confused due to the dual appellation (Saratoga station and Coburg post office), so in 1879 the name was changed to Amiret in honor of the vice president of the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad.

Amiret did not flourish as a village. In fact, in the spring of 1882 there was only one store, one elevator, one lumberyard and one hotel and boarding house. During the next few years there were more backward steps, and in 1885 J.W. Kelley, the only inhabitant of Amiret, moved to Balaton, and the village was deserted once more.

Slowly, new life was breathed into the village again, and by 1892 the site boasted two stores, two grain warehouses, two machinery dealers, a lumberyard and a blacksmith shop. A telephone company organized a farmers’ line in 1909, a bank opened in 1910 and REA arrived in 1940. Then Amiret lost its post office about 10 years ago (circa 1987) so residents now receive their mail under the Tracy zip code. The population sign outside of town reads 102, and the businesses that remain are a grain elevator, a car repair shop and a Lyon County Highway Department building.

The high steel bridge on the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad one-half mile south of Amiret is claimed to be the highest trestle in Minnesota. The original trestle, made of wood construction, was considered a masterpiece of engineering at the time of its erection in 1872. The fact that it was built of flammable materials made it susceptible to catching fire due to flying sparks every time a steam locomotive crossed. Therefore, the railroad company hired James Mitchell, Sr., whose farm was just west of the trestle, to walk the trestle after every train crossed it — day and night — in order to be sure flying sparks had not ignited it. The present steel structure was built in about 1915 and is 90 feet above the normal water level of the Cottonwood River, which it spans.

Little is known about the “Ghost Town” of Heckman Siding, once located at the east end of Lake Marshall. We do know that it once had a warehouse, an elevator and a post office. This community declined rapidly as business shifted to Marshall.

Source: History of Lyon County, Minn., 1912, A.P. Rose.