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Esko history book arrives at last

A long-awaited history of Esko and surrounding Thomson Township is finally set to hit local newsstands.

“Esko’s Corner, An Illustrated History of Esko and Thomson Township” is off the press and was delivered Wednesday to the Esko Historical Society.

The 400-page book — the culmination of a project organized by the historical society in 2008 — was researched and written by a volunteer committee, designed by Duluth historian Tony Dierckins and produced by Bang Printing of Brainerd.

“Past and present Esko residents have been awaiting publication with eager anticipation,” said project chairman and editor Davis Helberg. “We originally thought it would take a couple of years, but we kept learning more, writing more, adding more photos, and it developed a life of its own. We hope readers will find it was worth the wait.”

The book, whose title stems from the community’s original name, includes some 70 stories, about 160 photos, nine maps and is bound in hard covers with a dust jacket.

Helberg said there are stories about the township’s geology, early trails, railroads, logging, sawmills, first settlers, dairy farming, the 1918 Fire, schools, churches, businesses, fire department, Jay Cooke State Park, social organizations and sports teams.

Special features enable the reader to learn the origins of local road names, meet the township and community namesakes, visit vanished town sites, make a trip down the Midway River and gain insight into why so many Finns settled in Thomson Township.

“It was a labor of love for nearly everyone involved,” Helberg said. “Only a few of us had professional writing experience, but those who weren’t writers were invaluable as researchers, interviewers, fundraisers and through various support services.”

More than $35,000 was generated in a fundraising campaign chaired by retired dentist Dr. Jack Bergstedt and local restaurateur and attorney Peter Radosevich. Helberg said the community’s generosity enabled the historical society to hold the book’s retail price at $25.

The book will be sold initially by local businesses as well as from noon to 4 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays at the town hall beginning Jan. 21. Books also may be ordered via or by credit card by calling 218-879-9267.     

Members of the project committee were Helberg; vice chair Frank Liupakka; treasurer Lyle Colberg; secretary Bonnie Korpi; Brooke Bergstedt, Kathleen Burggraff, Robert D. Esko, Kristin Hiller, Rodney Ikola, Connie Jacobson, C. Philip Johnson, Ken Nynas and Jan Puline. Other main contributors were Jon A. Severson and the late Arvid Konu and Clifford Johnson.

Questions should be directed to Helberg at 218-590-4570 or