SAUK RAPIDS -- It's hard to imagine now but at one time there was a small community that existed along Highway 23 about halfway between St. Cloud and Foley.

Parent popped up in the late 1880s along the Great Northern Rail Line, which was finished by 1882.

Mary Ostby is the Executive Director of the Benton County Historical Society. She says they can't find any evidence of incorporation papers, but several businesses did exist in its heyday.

There was a sawmill there, there was a small creamery there, there was the Parent store there, and because of its location to the rural community, it had a stockyard.

The schoolhouse for District 35 was a quarter-mile west of town.

Benton County Historical Society
Benton County Historical Society

Many of the businesses closed up shop in the 1930s with the stockyards leaving in 1930, and the post office closing in 1937.

She says the community was named for the prominent Parent family at the time.

One of the longest-running families in Benton County.  A couple of brothers came in originally.  There are actually two different Parent families, and the one family ended up quite well in St. George Township and they still exist today.

The last passenger train from St. Cloud to Duluth ran in March of 1951.  There was never a train depot in Parent, so the train would only stop there if the conductor saw people standing on the platform.

There was a Parent store that served the area until 1966.

She says if you know what you're looking for there are still a few remaining buildings.

Yeah, if you drive by you realize there's kind of a quirky little intersection off a curve of Highway 23 with a little garage sitting on the right side and a big brick house sitting on the left side of 23, but if you didn't know that Parent was there you probably wouldn't pay much attention to either of those buildings.

She says the railroad used to have a Parent sign as well, but that went missing several years ago.

Benton County Historical Society
Benton County Historical Society

Ostby is on the News @ Noon Show on WJON once a month talking about the lost history of Benton County.

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