Lyman Spencer "bought the deed" to Florence

An aerial view of what the Florence site was like in the 1970s, shortly before Lyman Spencer bought the property. Now, another house sits in the bottom left area of the photo, and the  elevator in the top right corner is longer there. Photo courtesy of the Spencer family.

Wright County is home to many ghost towns—what were once small, but functioning communities and what now might be only a house or farmstead, or nothing at all. From Moscow and Eagleville on the west side of the county to Fryeburg and Waterman in the eastern half, usually only locals, or historians, know anything about them.

Florence, located almost exactly halfway between Clarion and Eagle Grove as the crow flies, was a small town which had a post office for only six years at the turn of the century. Though most people don’t remember it, some will recognize what it is today: the site of Spencer Steel, a family business started by Lyman Spencer.

While looking to purchase buildings to house his growing steel business, Spencer ended up buying two Quonset huts, the ground they were on, and the house that stood next to them at the auction in 1977. The land also included the old Florence grain elevator, which until that time was occasionally used to store grain by the Farmers Cooperative Company of Eagle Grove.

“Ended up buying the ground for the whole town,” Spencer said. “I didn’t even know anything about Florence before then.”


For the full story, see the September 9 edition of the Monitor.