Ernie Lantto in front of Lantto's Store, circa 1963. Photograph is from the Cokato Enterprise Collection.
For 112 years the Lanttos store has been a fixture in French Lake. The store legacy began when Finnish immigrant Abraham Lantto purchased Bergstrom Store in 1908 for $800. The store stocked a variety of items including dry goods, clothing, shoes, landscaping tools, and poultry. The store even sold ice, most of which came from French Lake itself. Initially, dairy products were not sold in the store as most of the French Lake residents were dairy farmers. Over the years the store became a social hub, a place where people gathered together to share the latest news.
Article by Michael Worcester from the Cokato Historical Society's newsletter In the Midst Of, October, 2005, Vol. 25 No. 4.
It is known that the first car seen in Cokato appeared in late August 1900. As written in Cokato’s First Century:
“the occupants were a man and wife reported to be en route to Mille Lacs Lake to hunt and fish. The Enterprise editor wrote that the vehicle ‘speeded” along at a rate of 12 miles per hour when on a good road, and the horseless carriage was quite a sight for those who had never seen one before, which probably meant almost everyone in Cokato.”
It would be another three years before car ownership arrived in Cokato, when businessman Emil Erickson and farmer John Ojanpera each purchased a new Oldsmobile. Gust Akerlund joined the ranks of car owners two years later, when he purchased a 1905 Oldsmobile from a stranger who drove into town.
In that day, there were no service stations to supply the essentials needed for auto ownership. Oil and gas were bought in bulk from hardware dealers. It would be another thirteen years until an actual service station opened in Cokato. And when it did, it was under the ownership of the largest corporate conglomerate in the world, Standard Oil.
Article by Michael Worcester from the Cokato Historical Society's newsletter In the Midst Of, January, 2004, Vol. 24 No. 1.
The exterior of the bowling alley, taken from a street scene postcard in 1943.
The sounds of rolling balls and crashing pins came to an end on Friday, April 17, 1966. That evening, the last game of bowling was played at the Cokato Bowling Center. While not really a long-standing institution in the city, the bowling alley was a popular spot for people to gather and spend time with family and friends.