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The First Post Office

John Skretting, who homesteaded about the years 1887 or 1888, saw the need of having communication with the outside world if the settlers were to prosper and not live in isolation an obscurity. He got a petition going and got it signed to extend a mail route from Aitkin down to the settlement. The settlers had, mostly by their own effort, cut a road from the north end of Mille Lacs to Isle Harbor (now Isle) so it connected with the road from Aitkin to the lake. The Post Office Department promised to comply with the request providing the applicant would agree to haul the mail for nothing for six months. As he was the only man in the settlement who had a team of horses, he undertook the job. The road in from Mora to the south end of Mille Lacs was ravelled and kept open in the wintertime, so he was allowed to take the mail in from that place, although the petition called for an extension of a mail route already running south from Aitkin. The spring after, 1892, the mail route was opened up in from Aitkin twice a week. Skretting's place, half a mile south of the present Opstead Store, was the termination. The Post Office was named Opstead after Skretting's home in Norway, Opstead near the city of Stavanger. The stage driver, a Mr. Woodrow from Aitkin, charged fifty cents per hundred for taking freight to or from Aitkin, and one dollar for a passenger. Most people walked to Aitkin to save the dollar, besides the jolting over the rough road was terrible, and walking was just as fast. To walk over to Opstead evenings to wait for the stage and get the mail, was for years a kind of social gathering, and the old people will still remember the often hot discussions over local as well as world affairs. After the mail was distributed the lanterns were lit, and we found our way over the wood trails to our homes.

Written by
Tolleif George Thomsen
from "Saga from Western Norway"

Compiled by
Carolyn Thomsen Mutchler


With written permission from Carolyn Thomsen Mutchler

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