The name sounds like something from the legendary Norse Midgard, a great force sent to destroy the heroes of the realm. Or a delicate Swedish pastry with lovey white glazing and almonds.
Kragelugn is the name of a beautiful Swedish Tile Stove.
The connection with Dassel began back in 1885 when a local entrepreneur, Peter Johnson, opened the Johnson and Company Stove Works. The company created the Kragelugn, a wood burning masonry radiant heater.
Mr. Johnson a Swedish native was a tailor in his homeland, moving to the United States in 1864 at the age of twenty-four. He headed west, initially landing in Chicago, then traveled until coming to Collinwood Township setting up a homestead. In 1878 he sold his land, moved to Dassel, and opened a loan and land office.
He became quickly involved in more commerce, opening a livery stable, becoming part owner in the Dassel Woolen mill, and the Grand Hotel just south of the then train depot. He planned to heat the hotel with the Kragelugn. It was to be the only hotel in the country heated by this type of stove.
From The History and Biography of Meeker County, Minnesota-1888
Dassel Village Section Page 565
The tile stove works of Peter Johnson is yet in its infancy and is the only one of its kind in the United States. It was established by the present proprietor in 1886 and is for the manufacture of tile stoves, etc. such as have been in use in the northern part of Europe for years, but which have, until now, been unknown in America. Mr. Johnson has inaugurated the enterprise at an outlay of some $10,000.00, and having already met with a merited success, anticipates greatly enlarging the plant in the summer of 1888. This is one of the greatest institutions in the country and such places as St Paul and Minneapolis would bid high to have it brought into their limits.
The Minneapolis Industrial Exposition of 1886-1887 presented an exhibit of these stoves, one person proclaiming the heat it produced to be simply delicious.
The stoves sold for $190, although The Litchfield Saturday Review of December 6, 1890, indicated that one stove was sold to a Jim Hill for the sum of $1,000.00 It is stated that they could not compete with other stoves manufactured in the U.S and eventually went out of business in a few years’ time after selling 60 stoves about the state of Minnesota. However, an article from April 19, 1888, states that it was rumored that Peter Johnson will move his tile stove works from Dassel to St Paul after Mr. Johnson was offered $25,000.00 and five acres of land to do so by the city of St. Paul. I have found nothing to verify the rumor. It is certain the factory. did close.
The factory was converted to a single-family home. This home was happily heated with the “delicious heat” of the Johnson Stoves.
Peter Johnson passed in 1913 at the age of 76
We no longer have any of the Johnson and Company Stove Works Kragelugn, sadly they are all lost to history, along with the building that housed the factory. The American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis has eleven tile stoves on its site, ten of them built in Swedish Manufacturing Organizations. If you have a chance look online for an example of these beautiful stoves or visit the ASI in person.
History here in Dassel, as I learn it, continues to fascinate and amaze me.