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Fairies swept away by 1899 cyclone

(The following may not be completely true.)

The local fairy population blossomed in the early years of New Richmond's history.

According to Mary Sather, local historian, the community's first documented fairy settler was Mr. Pixie Paperjack, who arrived in town thanks to a strong northeast wind in the summer of 1857.

At the time, only a few humans and a couple buildings existed along the Willow River.

Because fairies shy away from direct contact with people, Paperjack chose to set up his homestead along a creek to the south of town. The creek is now known as Paperjack Creek and sits in the heart of the city.

After more fairies moved to town, they decided to crown Pixie Paperjack their king. The new king's fairy subjects decided to build him a palace near the creek.

By the spring of 1899, about 56 fairies called the creek and the nearby greenway home.

But on June 12, 1899, the fairies faced a problem that was too difficult for them to overcome. A strong cyclone swept through New Richmond, killing more than 100 people and wiping out most of the buildings in the community.

Because fairy houses, and fairies themselves, are so lightweight, the terrible storm sucked up the Paperjack Creek settlement and all of its inhabitants, sending the magic beings to other places around the globe.

Because the human inhabitants of New Richmond were so busy rebuilding following the storm, the memories of their fairy friends slowly faded away. The only remaining sign that the fairies once lived along the creek is Paperjack Palace, which remains intact today.

Recently, Sather found a small newspaper article about Pixie Paperjack and his fairy settlement while looking through a box of historic items at the New Richmond Heritage Center.

She also found a small map, showing the location of Paperjack Palace and the small homes that surrounded it.

"It was really quite something," Sather said. "It's a shame that it was all blown away."

As word has spread throughout town about the former tiny residents, a few local residents decided to send out an invitation for fairies to return to New Richmond. Nine houses have already been constructed and placed along Paperjack Creek and in other local parks. The houses are open to any fairy or fairy family, on a first-come, first-served basis.

New Richmond kids and adults are asked to join in the community effort to restore the fairy population. Anyone wishing to decorate the fairy homes is welcome to find one or more of the homes and help out. Small notes, which fairies enjoy reading, can also be left as a welcome gift for returning fairies.

As this week marks the 114th anniversary of the New Richmond cyclone, the fairy houses will be placed in the parks in private places. Fairy house artists would appreciate it if people are careful with the new homes, so that they are not destroyed and they remain open so fairies can move in at any time.

And just because you can't see a fairy nearby, don't assume that one hasn't moved in yet. Fairies like being private, and hide when people are near.

"Sometimes you can see something moving out of the corner of your eye," Sather said, "but when you turn, there is nothing there. That's probably a fairy flying away."