Crane Johnson Lumber Company

Maynard Crane opened the first lumber plant on Griggs soil, in Cooperstown, March 1, 1883.  It was one of the first business enterprises of the town.

Crane operated the business alone for almost a decade.  In 1887, however, he had employed a farmer-settler from southern Nelson County, John E. Johnson, whose interest in the business was no whit less than Crane's.  In 1896 Johnson became a partner in the business and the company was reorganized under the firm name of Crane and Johnson.

In 1890 Crane-Johnson, Inc. expanded further to Hannaford, North Dakota and set up a yard there under the management of Archie Sinclair.  Twelve years later when the Sanborn, Cooperstown and Turtle Mountain Railway had been extended to McHenry another yard was established at that point and the manager's job was given to F.C. Potter of Sanborn.  Potter was later brought to Cooperstown in 1907 and seven years later became general manager of the corporation, a position he held until his death in November 1935.  Mr. Potter was also named vice-president upon the death of one of the original partners, John E. Johnson.

The corporation of Crane-Johnson Company, Inc. continued to expand its operations to include yards in many other communities.  In 1920 the working capital was increased to $250,000.  The general office was moved to Fargo, North Dakota in 1932.


The Cooperstown Yard

In 1883 the original yard was established in Cooperstown by Maynard Crane.  John E. Johnson joined the company and became a partner in 1896 and the company was reorganized under the name of Crane and Johnson.

Crane-Johnson Company, Inc. was formed as a result of a reorganization achieved in April of 1903 with a capital stock of $100,000.00 by Maynard Crane, John E. Johnson, G.E. Maconnel and E.F. Crane.

F.C. Potter was appointed manager of the Cooperstown yard in 1907 and served in that capacity for seven years at which time he was made general manager for the firm.

A.K. Sorvik was the next manager and the Cooperstown yard continued to grow and improve.  Jim Hovern succeeded Sorvik and served as manager until 1938.

In the spring of 1938 a new office was built onto the yard and was almost completed when a fire broke out June 10 and the entire yard was destroyed.

The company began to rebuild immediately and the new yard was completed and open for business August 27 the same year.  Leonard Thorson was the manager of the new yard.  At that time it was one of the most modern in North Dakota.

Leonard Thorson served as manager until 1946.  He was then transferred to the Yard #2.

Ben H. Fink was brought in to replace Leonard Thorson as manager in 1946.  Ben served as manager until 1967, when he retired.

Ted Sonderby took over as manager in 1967 and served until 1978.  The Cooperstown yard was remodeled in 1970 and is the same today.

Bill Jandt took over as manager in the spring of 1978 and served for one year.

Arlie Strand then came to Cooperstown and has managed the yard to the present date.  Working with Mr. Strand are Thomas Machart as Assistant Manager, Donald Arneson as truck driver, and Peggy Strand as part-time bookkeeper.

Next year, 1983, Crane-Johnson Lumber Company, Inc. will celebrate its 100th birthday.

Presently Crane-Johnson serves ten communities:

  1. Cooperstown, North Dakota
  2. Enderlin, North Dakota
  3. Fargo, North Dakota
  4. Hope, North Dakota
  5. Lidgerwood, North Dakota
  6. Mayville, North Dakota
  7. West Fargo, North Dakota
  8. Hallock, Minnesota
  9. Pelican Rapids, Minnesota
  10. Perham, Minnesota

Present Officers of the Company are:

Lee Briggs, President

Dick Borkenhagen, Vice-President

Wylie Briggs, Secretary-Treasurer

Source: Cooperstown, North Dakota 1882-1982 Centennial Page 211

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