June 30, July 1-2, 2000

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Ceylon Tunnel In the early days Ceylon was known as the " Biggest Little Town in Minnesota" The population of Ceylon was growing by leaps and bounds at this time. Ceylon, indeed was a busy town. Many businesses prospered . Two hardware stores, two pool halls , a drug store, hotel, hatchery, movie theater, clothing stores, a garage, barbershops a blacksmith shop, harness shop and many more businesses all supported by this tight knit little boom town.

It is reported, by the grapevine, that Ceylon hosted illicit gambling games during this time including card games; dice, punch-boards, and one -armed -bandits Everyone knew that a "big game" was in process when Cadillac's, Lincoln's and Limo's some with out -of -state licenses were hidden in the back alleys. This led a garage owner to take advantage of the situatio so that the vehicles were not in plain view of the law . He hid the out of staters in his garage until the notorious games were over.

One Dunnell filling station attendant was known to give these out of state gamblers directions to Ceylon like this. While working with his head under the hood of a car , he would rattle off these directions, " go east until you can't go east anymore,then go south until you can go east again. Go east again until you can't go east anymore, go south until you can go east again---go east until you get there. It is from this era that we get the rumors of the Ceylon tunnel.

It is rumored that an escape tunnel was dug out from the basement of one of the offending business places, across main street to a building on the other side of the street. Some have even gone so far as to say that another tunnel exited at Clear Lake. With the water level as it is, I think they would have had to swim part of the way to get there. Another version has it that the tunnel originated in the a basement which had only the back half , housing the stove and wood and coal area dug out . The front half being dug out, forming the famous tunnel,with a door locking out the interloper.At the first sign of impending danger all of the card players and the evidence including their drinks, departed to the tunnel until a signal was given that all was clear. Maybe this is possibly where the tunnel theory came into being.

With all of the gambling going on in this little town, I can certainly see the need for tunnels. Reliable sources have reported that indeed there were "big time" card games taking place in the basement of one local poolhall as well as the hotel down the street. Farms and businesses would change hands several times in one evening. It was stated by one source that during his lifetime that he never saw so much money laying on a gambling table.

As the story goes there was an elaborate signaling devices used to warn the players of a raid. First they had a door keeper at the entrance of the basement door who kept an eagle eye out for intruders who got past the upstairs watchers. One time a disgruntled looser came from within the gambling quarters, madder then a hornet . When the keeper opened the door to let him out ,he was given a pop in the nose , breaking it ,as the looser took off on a run.Bartenders were in constant surveillance of suspicious " out of towners" always on the lookout for the law. One method of warning the card player if all was not well, was to drizzle some drink in a hole drilled above the player's card table warning them below to get rid of the evidence right now.Another method of warning was a light switch under the counterof the bar upstairs,connected to the light over the card table in the basement. When trouble loomed upstairs, the bartender would blink the light off and on to warn them below that trouble was near, to get the heck out of there.

Even though suspicion of strangers was the call of the day, it's reported that one local bar owner opened his mouth to insert foot . It has been said that a fellow walked into his establishment with a bunch of punch boards under his arm. Not wanting to deal with another salesman the bartender said, " I don't need anymore of those ***###%%%@@@ things I've got a whole basement full" Much to his dismay he was not aware that he was talking to the law!

Many of the games were played on Saturday nights. Several out of town brothers wore their suits under their coveralls. In the wee small hours of the morning when the game was over, they skined out of their coveralls and attended early morning mass before going home.

Problems were on going for the gamblers of Ceylon. There were too many raids taking place at the poolhall and hotel. As time went on it got too "hot" to play in these establishments but gamblers were not easily discouraged. It is said that they moved their games to an abandoned farm house outside of town. Things went fine for a while. The owner of the poolhall would fry up burgers and take them to the country to sell, and maybe play a few games. As luck would have it, their fine gambling location did not stay secret for long. One evening instead of a raid by the law, the gamblers were held up at gunpoint. As one gentleman related, upon reaching town, sore footed, minus one shoe, that he jumped out the window, ran through cornfields to get away from those gun toting PRO'S. He said that the gamblers were jumping out the windows, running down the basement, out the cellar door, running into the cornfields to escape. Fortunatley no one was hurt, however, the gamblers were relieved of all their cash. No one knows when the "big time gambling" ceased in Ceylon, or has it? But I am sure the decline must have started with that hold-up.

In 1987 mainstreet was dug up to put in the new sewer system, telephone ,power and waterlines. Many spectators watched with baited breath, waiting to see evidence of the infamous tunnel. To their disappointment only an oblong gaping hole below the door transom of the notorious establishment could be found. but, not a particle of dirt had been disturbed across the street. What happened to that tunnel???? Was it filled in with dirt by someone so many years ago in order to cover their tracks or are those notorious tunnels just folklore passed on to us from those rip roaring gambling days?



What will make a perfectly sane person get out of a toasty warm bed at the crack of dawn, with the thermometer reading 10 below zero and put on longies, insulated undies, swearshirts, coveralls, wool socks, boots and other paraphernalia, and go out into the elements when he doesn't have to.

Why, it's the sport of ice fishing! I don't know what the sport involves, but I have heard rumors and I have seen a conglomeration of wooden structures placed on strategic spots on ice covered lakes, resembling the little house behind the big house .. I was very quickly assured that they were nothing like that. Todays houses"dark houses" have almost all of the comforts of home. Most of them have a door in one end, some have a window and a black stovepipe emitting black puffs of smoke now and then. The most important thing is the icehole bored in just the right spot. Within reach is a block of wood or a stool to sit on Truthfully I don't see how the fisherman can bend in the middle to sit with all all those clothes on.

An oil burning stove sits in one end of the house to keep the interior cozy and the backside warm. Also to keep frost bitten tootsies thawed out after standing hour after hour on the wall to wall fridgid carpeting while staring down a cold ice hole waiting for the big one to bite.

Day after day I have noticed the same cars and pickups parked by the same fishhouses. Sometimes I would ask individuals, when I rarely saw them on the street, "Catch anything lately?" He'll grin and say "Naw, but I'm going back again early in the morning." With a gleam in his eyes he'll say "Boy should have seen the big one that got away!"

One of these days I'm going to visit one of those ice houses and investigate what makes these individuals carbon copies of each others. All of them look alike, looking for the big one that got away. I will continue to greet these fishermen with the same greeting," Catch anything today and expect to get the same reply, "You should have seen the big one that got away."

Watch for a picture of one of a great fishermen here.



1860 when the Sam Carver clan came to the rich beautiful wooded area of Lake Okamanpedan to set up camp they had not an inkling of what was ahead for them. When they arrived a huge hulk of a man stood in Sam Carver's pathway with a grim look on his face and a gun in his hand pointing it straight at Sam Carver. Calvin Tuttle poked his gun at Carver saying," What are you doing here." Sam Carver , not knowing that he was standing on Calvin Tuttle's private ground stated that he and his family came here to stake a claim. " Not on my land ,I am telling you to get and get fast."yelled Tuttle, "

Don't want to see your face again."Carver not wanting trouble moved on to another part of the wooded area further north.

The next morning ,big as three mountains ,came the Tuttles ,Calvin and his two son's George and Columbus. They strode into the Carver campsite , guns in hand telling them to move on. Carver repeated what Tuttle had told him the following evening, " You told us to move on and we did." Carver firmly stood his ground. With this answer the Tuttles left, muttering threats if the Carvers remained.

The Tuttles and several other men had set up a feudal empire , claiming several thousand acres of the rich virgin forest area. Tuttle and his bunch ruled it like dictators, A small community with a tract of land next to the Tuttles were very happy to see that the Carvers were on their side. Some of the disputed area was land where the village of Ceylon now stands.

During the next couple of years the Tuttles made many ugly threats, by 1862 the feud between the two giant hulks reached the boiling point. In a rash statement Tuttle told Carver, "If You can beat me in a fair fight I will move with my family and friends leaving my empire to you,Sam Carver."

The date and time of the fight was established. Settlers for miles around gathered to see the fight of all fights. The strangest fight in history.

It is said that the bloody battle raged on for an hour . It began with Carver trying to get his arm out of the sleeve of his jacket , while Tuttle immediately took advantage of the situation bashing him with brutal blows. The two giant men rolling on the ground, with Carver still trying to get his other arm out of the sleeve of his jacket. Mrs. carver, a very resouceful women, had carefully stitched cuffs from a pair of long johns on the cuffs of her husbands jacket . Her act of kindness nearly turned the tide on the battle. Releasing his arm from the jacket, The battle climaxed with Tuttle, his head down, roaring like a bull, headed straight toward Carver. Carver stepped aside, Tuttle plunged headlong to the ground. Carver scrambled on top of him beating the living life out of him. Bloody and beaten,Tuttle yelled for mercy.

This ended the Carver-Tuttle Fight. After a few days, Tuttle, a man of his word loaded his covered wagon, acompanied with his family and friends, left his claim for places unknown leaving Martin County never to return.


Info-gathered from an article written by Johnathan Woods for Colliers. more then a century ago.


September 20, 1958 the gigantic Martin County Centennial Parade had three great-granddaughter of it's first settler,Calvin Tuttle riding in the parade seated on buffalo robes. Instead of riding in a covered wagon as their ancestors, the three women rode in a classy convertible with a sign reading, "THE TUTTLE'S CAME FIRST" .The great-granddaughters, Mrs Pouliet, of Chicago, Illinois, Mrs Cramer of Alma, Nebraska and Mrs F.O.Arnell of Mission, Kansas were delighted to ride in the parade.

The decendents made a visit to the site where Calvin Tuttle built , in 1856 the first shack, located on the grounds of the present Boy Scout Camp in Silver Lake Township.Tuttle's family came a few months later to the inlet of the lake that bears his name.

The Tuttles lived across the stream from where the Carvers had set up camp. They lived and verbally

fought together until the great day , in 1862, when Tuttle lost the fist fight and moved to Colorado.He and his three sons were soon sworn into the military service the same day and fought in the Civil War.

In 1968 one of the great-granddaughters, Mrs F.O Arnell, with some of her family, came back to Martin County to view the site again. Mrs. Arnell was presented the sign," THE TUTTLE'S CAME FIRST" by Walter Carlson, Martin County Historical Society secretary of Trimont.

Mrs Cathrine Hartung hosted the group at her home, for lunch and guided them back to the site where the Tuttle's lived and where the great fight took place.

Info taken from the Fairmont Sentinel Aug. l968






































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