Soudan’s Only Store still surviving after 131 years on the Vermilion Iron Range
SOUDAN, MN. (Northern News Now) - Soudan and nearby Tower Minnesota trace their roots to the early 1880′s and the start of the Soudan Mine which makes them the oldest Minnesota communities north of Duluth. The mine made a fortune for the Oliver Mining Company which opened its headquarters in a grand building just south of the operation in 1892.
“And it was the first place with electricity and central water in town.” said Terry Wagoner who owns the building today.
Building owner Terry Wagoner tells us that eventually the Oliver HQ moved to a different Range town and the building became a clubhouse for Oliver Mine employees.
“The mine made it a clubhouse to keep their miners sober with something to do like come here and play pool and relax.” said Wagoner.
By the 50′s, the old clubhouse became Soudan’s Only Store due to an ancient agreement that Tower would get the region’s business district and Soudan would be allowed a single shop. It’s still rolling that way as a combination convenience store, gas station, ice cream parlor and coffee bar.
“Every so often you feel a little of the history based on the number of people who come here regularly and call it the club, not Soudan’s Store, it’s the club!” said store employee Diedra Palmer.
One long term club member is Leonard Stefanich who usually makes a daily appearance. Regular guys like that keep the joint jumping according to employees.
“Like you said they’re regulars, they’re daily, they bring a lot of liveliness and laughter to the place.” said Palmer.
Terry Wagoner has owned Soudan’s Only Store for close to 20 years. It’s off the beaten path so it’s mostly locals that are patrons. There are enough of them to keep the business going and the quality of life high.
“We live upstairs and it’s kind of nice to if you have time to have coffee with the crowd that comes in and it’s a beautiful place to live because right across the road is the state park and there are trails all over.” said Wagoner.
Soudan’s Only Store also features a mini-Tower-Soudan museum. Many of the items were found in the attic of the store.
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