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Jim Block and Iver Fransten pour water on a blaze the burned the last remaining building at Krem.

Last Building in Krem Burns

"Last Building in Krem Burns." Hazen Star, 26 August 2004, 3.

A slice of Mercer County history went up in smoke last week as the last remaining building on the Krem town site burned.

The Hazen Fire Department responded to the call last week Thursday about mid-morning. What was left of a building with walls constructed mostly of field rock was destroyed.

Krem, located roughly seven miles northeast of Hazen, was one of Mercer County's first settlements. The town site sits on land now owned by Art Mueller of Hazen.

Mueller grew up a half-mile north of Krem and said the building was a house owned by Emil Richter, a relative of his family.

The fire destroyed the roof and was confined to the interior of what remained of the structure. Hazen Fire Chief Tom Beery said the cause of the fire is undetermined.

The building, which sits nestled in a a grove of trees, is the only remaining structure of what was once a thriving settlement that sprang up on the prairie before the turn of the century.

Mueller said he is not too familiar with the history of Krem, but said it once boasted two churches that were located across the road to the west.

St. Paul's and St. James', both Lutheran churches, were destroyed by twisters; one in 1920 and one in 1933. St. Paul's was rebuilt and now only the foundation of that church remains.

Today, the only thing that draws people to Krem are two cemeteries down the road from the town site, the occasional hunter walking the trees for upland game and local youths who gather there for the occasional party.

Beery said he does not believe the fire was set intentionally, but likely began the night before and was kicked up by winds that morning.

Reprinted with permission of the Hazen Star.

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