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Sunday, March 01, 2015
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Girl Talk
The Madison Avenue fireplace mystery
By By Jill Meier
Challenger editor

July 16. 2014 10:03AM
Several years ago, I received an inquiry about the mysterious fireplace situated on the hillside along Madison Avenue between here and Sioux Falls. I, too, was curious of the story behind the still standing fireplace, but in all honesty, I didnít know where to begin searching for that answer.

Well, as it turns out, the answer was right under my nose all this time. Earlier this year, I came across a story in the April 6, 1994 Brandon Valley Challenger. Hereís how the story read:

A lone fireplace on Madison Avenue once heated a boxcar and later, a cabin. Two women from Sioux Falls, a mother and a daughter, used to spend their summers there, according to local experts.

Steve Gage of rural Brandon said his first job was trimming the weeds around the place in the 1960s for $1.25 a month.

According to Gage and others, the cabin was built in the 1930s. The women, one named Bertha Cox, grew fruit and nut trees on the land around the cabin.

By the 1960s, the women were elderly and the cabin was becoming run down. Local children played there in recent years.

A relative in California inherited the land, the locals said.

When the state widened Highway 11 last year (1993), workers tried to relocate the cabin, but it was too run down and it fell apart.

Gerrit Doppenberg of rural Brandon said he was going to take the fireplace but didnít have a truck big enough, so he asked workers to put the fireplace on the hilltop facing the road.

Mystery solved.
Some time off
As youíre reading this issue of the Brandon Valley Challenger, Iím in the midst of enjoying a week of vacation time. Alica P. Thiele will be filling in during my absence.
For editorial needs, please call the Challenger at 582-6025 and leave a message, or contact her at 941-0216 or by email at athiele@argusleadercom.

If you have advertising needs, please contact Sonja Nile at 977-3903 or by email at

And if by chance youíre having difficulties with the delivery of your Brandon Valley Challenger, please call 331-2225.
Community organization needs
Needs at the Brandon Area Food Pantry this month are bottled juices, Homestyle Bakes, pancake mix and syrup, peanut butter and jelly, hot chocolate mix, saltine crackers and deodorant.

While always appreciated, the Pantry has a large supply of canned goods in stock. Monetary donations are always appreciated. Before donating, please check the expiration date, as expired food items cannot be distributed.

The BAFP is located at 406 Main Ave., and is open from 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. To donate to the food pantry or for more information, call 582-7001.

The Brandon Lions Club also wants your aluminum cans. Proceeds from the sale of aluminum funds requests to the Club for vision and hearing impairment needs.

The Lions Club collection shed is located in the Sunshine Foods parking lot.

Trees and other flora grow around the Madison Avenue fireplace that was placed there in the early 1990s. Photo by Jill Meier

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