ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

'Grasshopper Wars' fought on East Otter Tail Prairies in 1888

Swarms of grasshoppers don't plague us today as they did over a century ago. In fact, the average Perhamite may never give the devastating affects of grasshoppers a thought. It was, however, something local farmers in 1888 had to deal with.

Swarms of grasshoppers don't plague us today as they did over a century ago. In fact, the average Perhamite may never give the devastating affects of grasshoppers a thought. It was, however, something local farmers in 1888 had to deal with.

The summer of 1888 was both one of progress and devastation for Perham residents. They erected the first public school building for $18,000 which was a turning point in education for the area. On the other hand, grasshoppers destroyed the entire Perham prairie crop.

Farmers were desperate to eradicate the unwanted pests. Before the hoppers had grown into the full-fledged tormentors they were, the farmers spread large sheet iron pans with coal tar or kerosene oil and dragged them over the fields. As Henry Kemper states, "the little hoppers that came in contact therewith would go kaput."

This procedure didn't solve the problem, however.

When they had grown, a canvas balloon was used to catch them on the fly at about sunset and after when the hoppers were most active. With this method, 17,000 bushels were captured and paid for at the rate of $1 per bushel by Cap. Chase of Fergus Falls, ("he was the hopper boss").

ADVERTISEMENT

The hopper dilemma drew in resourceful people from all over who attempted to capture the horrid hoppers for monetary gain. Many farmers objected to this, driving intruders off their farms at the muzzle of a shot gun. One such farmers stated, "These hoppers are mine and I can do with them what I please, let them eat my wheat or kill them. I will get no wheat, therefore I want the hoppers as long as I can get a dollar per bushel."

On top of the hoppers, frost destroyed much of the remaining crops. It was a summer of disaster, but the Perhamites pulled through to see many following summers of success and prosperity.

What To Read Next
Mike Clemens, a farmer from Wimbledon, North Dakota, was literally (and figuratively) “blown away,” when his equipment shed collapsed under a snow load.
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission met on Jan. 5, 2023, to consider the application for Summit Carbon Solutions.
Qualified Minnesota farmers will receive dollar-for-dollar matching money to purchase farmland.