From Torah to Richmond – The Story of Richmond
Richmond is a town of 1,420 people but the town wasn't always known as Richmond. This is the story of Richmond in Central Minnesota located southwest of St. Cloud along Highway 23. To help tell the story of Richmond I was joined by lifelong Richmond area resident and current Mayor James Hemmesch and longtime resident and current Park & Rec Director and Ice Arena Manager Kevin Mooney.
Richmond was platted by Rueben Richardson in 1856. He was a farmer from Sauk Rapids who later served in the Minnesota legislature. It is unclear where the name Richmond came from but it could have come from an early settler in the area. The town was incorporated in 1890 and was called Torah because there was another town in southeastern Minnesota already named Richmond. The town's post office and railway station was called Torah until 1909 when the name was switched to Richmond because the people from town identified with that name. The Great Northern Railway went through Richmond starting in 1890.
Richmond offers many recreation options include boating/fishing on the Horseshoe Chain of Lakes, the Sauk River, the Glacial Lakes trail, the new ROCORI trail, El Rancho Manana campground, Rich Spring Golf Course, and the River Lakes Civic Arena just to name a few. Kevin Mooney says about 20 years ago Richmond started a trail program and that's when the city helped the state and DNR add the Glacial Lakes trail on the old BNSF rail line. He says the start of the construction of the ROCORI trail started at around that time as well. Mooney indicates that's when they started to see more people walking and biking in the community. He indicated the local hardware store had a hard time keeping bikes in stock. Mooney says the community is active year round and the hockey arena helps with that over the winter months. Richmond also offers an outdoor music series Tuesdays during the summer.
Richmond's industry is spread out around town with a thriving downtown that includes a hardware store, meat market, bank, grocery store, bars/restaurants, church, and schools. The industrial park along Highway 23 offers a convenience store, liquor store, Jill's Cafe, Channel Marine, C&D Granite and A&W. Mooney recalls the River Roost that existed along Highway 23 but was removed when Highway 23 went to 4 lanes.
Mayor Hemmesch indicates Richmond has been growing and will continue to grow but they are limited south of Highway 23 but the town has seen commercial/industrial growth both to the east and west of town. He says they are trying to work on increasing housing options. Hemmesch said prior to COVID they were averaging 10 new home permits a year.
Richmond is the host to many events. Hemmesch says coming up on June 3 they are having their summer kickoff that will take place on Main Street, the 3rd weekend in July is River Lake Days which includes live music, beer gardens, etc... and the first Friday in December, which they call "Tremendous Night" is when the city's kicks off winter. Hemmesch explains the winter kickoff includes the giving away of approximately 800 hot dogs. He says the last couple of years on the Chain of Lakes the Fire Department has had a cat fishing contest which grew from its first year to this year.
If you'd like to listen to my conversations with James Hemmesch and Kevin Mooney they are available below.