Sesquicentennial Highlights


While Vermilion, celebrating its Centennial this year, always has been the metropolis of Clay County, there was at one time a community which threatened to dispute its claim.  And that was the town of Lodi, located high above the banks of the Vermillion river in Pleasant Valley township.

Lodi was the light of day in the 1860�s, flourished in the 1870�s and sank into oblivion in the 1890�s.  Oliver Goldsmith told in �The Deserted Village� of �Sweet Auburn, loveliest village of the plains,� but little has been written about Lodi.

According to reports, Lodi was established in 1869 by a number of families, which included the Sherks, the Wellingtons, the Lovejoys, the Larkins, the Fishers, the Rudds and the Huttons.  The river there was a suitable place for a dam. Fisher established one of the first grist mills in Dakota Territory. 

The town site was surveyed and platted in December 1873.  The mill was located at the edge of the hill and was operated entirely by water power.  The Vermillion was much more of a river than it is at present.  The mill was the big industry in Lodi and ground wheat and corn for farmers from miles around.  It made a flour called �Belle of Lodi�, which had a large sale for several years. 

Among the businesses at Lodi when it was in its prime were a general store, operated by Lee & Prentis, two harness shops, a hotel, two blacksmith shops, a millinery store, a drug store, a post office and a saloon. 

There were three churches in the town and a small school house.  In 1876 steps were taken toward the establishment of an academy.  Some money was raised but the project never got beyond the planning stage.

From the beginning, Lodi had high hopes of getting a railroad.  The Illinois Central made a preliminary survey with Lodi on the right of way.  About 15 years later a railroad final came but it missed Lodi.  It was the North  Western with its line from Yankton to Sioux Falls.  This was the death blow for the little village.  Many of the places of business moved to Wakonda when it was organized as the new town.

The last store in Lodi gave up in 1892.  And that�s the story of the rise and fall of Lodi.

Today grain grows in the streets of the once thriving village.

And now back to 1959.  A bill for the new fire hydrants in the Ridgecrest Addition of Vermillion was approved by the city council at a cost of about $700.00

It�s March and the local stores are returning to the regular Saturday night closing hours of 9:00 pm.

Residents of Dixon County Nebraska continue to ask when a ferry will run between Vermillion and Nebraska.  Those living in Maskell can set their clocks by the Vermillion whistle but have to drive to Sioux City or Yankton to get to Vermillion.  Ferry landing sites on both sides of the river were selected some four years ago.  A bridge across the river south of Vermillion is preferred but a bridge will not be considered by any unit of government until a ferry crossing has proved there is a traffic demand.

Work has been started on the new water storage tower in Prentis Park.  It will hold 500,000 gallons.  The present water tower on Market Street has a capacity of 100,000 gallons.

The Frostop Drive In will re-open on April 3 for the summer.  Many new items have been added to the menu and new pizza ovens have been installed.

Plans for runway lights and a revolving beacon are being discussed with the Civil Air Patrol.  The cost of the runway lights and beacon will be paid by the Civil Air Patrol with matching funds from the State Aeronautics Commission.  The total improvement program will cost about $40,000.  About 52 percent of the total bill will be paid by the federal government.  At the present time there are 18 airplanes based at the Vermillion airport and the airport is said to be one of the most active in the state and area.

Council Oak Specials:  Butter at 59 cents per lb., 10 lb. Bag of sugar, 93 cents, corn fed tender blade cut pot roast, 49 cents per lb., fancy rib steaks, 79 cents per lb., cream cheese, 2  3oz. pkgs, 25 cents, Sunkist sweet navel oranges, 39 cents per doz., Northern toilet tissue, 3 rolls, 29 cents, grade A eggs, 29 cents per doz., crisp fresh head lettuce, 2 large heads, 29 cents,

An application for a permit to remove the G. Meisenholder building has been filed at the city hall.  The building has been vacant since the store closed in 1958.  The building was built shortly after the flood of 1881 by Lee & Prentis as a general store.

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