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Bahr Bus Company
Presentation to the Annandale History Club
June 5, 2017
Linda (Bahr) Olson

Linda (Bahr) Olson presented some of the vintage Annandale photographs from her collection.  Linda’s father, Neil Bahr (1907-1991) was owner and operator of Neil Bahr Bus Service from 1934 until retiring in 1974.  Bahr Bus Service is now M & M Bus Service, Inc. owned by Roger and Karen Millner.

Linda’s grandfather, Gilbert Bahr (1881-1946) was one of Annandale’s first auto mechanics.  According to Nobel Shadduck in a 1991 Advocate article, “Gil Bahr was fixing gas powered buggies several years before Carl and Joe Lundeen started the Ford garage in 1917.”  The shop occupied most of the building on main street where Arenson’s Pharmacy was later located.

Annandale School District was enlarged by adding a number of country districts.  Students in the consolidated districts were transported in horse-drawn school buses. Other high school students from the country either boarded in town or with families where horse-drawn buses picked up students.  Ken Rudolph said that he rode a horse-drawn school bus from first grade in 1924 until 8th or 9th grade.  (See May 2008 History Club presentation, “Horse-Drawn School Buses,” by Ken Rudolph.)

1934:  Neil Bahr purchased the bus company started by his father, Gilbert Bahr.  Joe Lundeen sold his  

1940:  During the Armistice Day Blizzard November 11 and 12, 1940, five buses were stuck in the snow, four with children aboard.  The drivers and children were given refuge at homes along the route.  Fortunately, telephone service remained intact, so the safety of the students could be reported.      

1954:  Annandale Advocate, September 9, 1954:  The Annandale School opened with a record breaking enrollment.  Neil Bahr has a fleet of 15 new school buses for transportation of the pupils.  It is estimated the buses cover between 700 to 800 miles daily.

1962:  Annandale Advocate, July 12, 1962:  One of Annandale’s oldest buildings on Main Street is no more.  It was the building occupied by George Shierts until a few years ago. Neil Bahr purchased the building and lot and has razed the old section.  He will erect a building there to use for his school bus business.

1969:  Neil Bahr purchased a Motorola radio system installed in 18 school buses and three mini buses with control consoles in the bus garage, office and living quarters adjacent to the office so drivers could be in touch at all times.

1971:  The remaining Minnesota country schools were mandated to consolidate with larger school districts, adding to the number of students to be transported to Annandale.  From 1910 to 1971, 36 country schools in seven townships (Albion, Clearwater, Corinna, French Lake, Silver Creek, Southside and Lynden) consolidated with Annandale Public Schools.  (See February 4, 2013 History Club presentation, “Annandale Public Schools,” by Superintendent Steve Niklaus.)

AA 1972: Photo of Neil Bahr and Marshall Nicka. “23 buses parked next to the sidewalk area at Bendix School.  21 of these belong to Neil Bahr, who has been in the bus transportation business in the Annandale Public Schools since 1934.  Neil transports 1,112 students each day, 624 of these are elementary.  Marshall Nicka, South Haven, brings in two busloads of students.  42 students are elementary and 52 in high school.  Marshall has operated his own bus service for seven years.  (Note:  M & L purchased Nicka’s bus company in 1978.)

1973:  M & L Bus Service was incorporated. Neil Bahr Bus Service sold to M & L Bus Service, Inc., effective August 1, 1973.  M & L rented the cement block building owned by Bahr Bus Company.  This building was where Annandale State Bank has been located since 1980.   Neil Bahr also owned the building that became Arenson’s Pharmacy.  (See May 2008 presentation, “History of Annandale Bus Service,” by Roger and Karen Millner.)

According to Mark Arenson in his May 7, 2012, History Club “Arenson Pharmacy” presentation, the Bahr building was built in 1929 and used as a bus garage until the 1950s when the buses were moved to a different location.  Neil Bahr purchased the bus service from his father in 1934 and sold it in 1973.  There were two garage doors opening to the main street (Oak Avenue).  Neil Bahr rented the north side of the building to several tenants and the south half of the building to George Arenson.  Arenson later bought the entire building and it was Arenson Pharmacy until December 2016.,       

Annandale Advocate, June 1973:  Neal Bahr has sold his School Bus Service to the Larson Bus Service, Inc., of Sauk Rapids.  The transaction will be effective August 1.  Ed Larson will be the manager and Roger Millner, assistant manager, will be in Annandale to supervise the service.  Neil has operated the bus service here for 39 years building up the routes as the school enrollment increased.

M & L purchased from Bahr 32  30-36 passenger buses, but not Bahr’s smaller buses.  They sold all but ten and bought 72 passenger buses that allowed them to reduce the number of routes from 24 to 16. 

1974:  M & L built a new bus terminal near the current Annandale High School

1978:  M & L purchased the Nicka Bus Service which transported students from South Haven.

1984:  The Millners purchased Ed Larson’s shares of M & L Bus Service and changed the name to M & M.

1991:  Neil Bahr (1907-1991) - Neil W. Bahr, 83, of Annandale died Monday, March 4, 1991, at Health One Buffalo Hospital.  Funeral service was Wednesday, March 6, at the Annandale United Methodist Church, Rev. Mark Johnson officiating. Burial followed at Woodlawn Cemetery.

Mr. Bahr was born July 25, 1907, at Spring Valley, Wisconsin, to the late Gilbert and Ruby (Weldon)
Bahr.  He married Lucy S. Kurz on June 18, 1941, in Annandale.  She preceded him in death on December 6, 1989.  He was owner and operator of Neil Bahr Bus Service 1934 to 1973.  He retired in 1974.  He served in the Army during World War II, was a member of Annandale United Methodist Church, Fair Haven Masonic Lodge AF & AM, was a former Mayor of Annandale 1965-1966, and a member of Eastern Star. 

Compiled by the Annandale History Club Secretary 

Photos shown by Linda (Bahr) Olson at her presentation:


School busses parked in front of the school on Cherry Avenue.


The large white garage door goes down to the garage under the building where busses were store and repaired. The small door to the left (north) of the garage door goes down to an office on the lower level where Lee Stringer kept books for the Bahr Bus Company. The windows above with awnings are on apartments above the bus garage.

A bus is parked in front of the bus garage. The open lot in front of the car is in the location of the current parking lot between Arenson’s Pharmacy and the Post Office. Notice the car is parked diagonally on the street, no longer allowed. That telephone booth pictured was later moved to the NE corner of Oak Ave. and Cedar St.

This is the alley in back of the bus garage. The busses drove into the garage under the building from Main Street (Oak Ave) and out the back of the building to the alley.
   The egg crates against the bus garage belong to the Marohn Egg Market next door to the garage. The building extending further toward the alley is apartments owned by Neil Bahr.

A young boy is being put on the school bus by his mother.

Gilbert Bahr, Neil’s father, is pictured here in the bus garage under the building.

Gilbert Bahr is repairing one of the school busses.

This old car was parked in the drive through that went from Main Street back to the alley. Across the street can be seen the tall front of Prahl’s Pharmacy. At that time there was an empty lot to the right (north) of Prahl’s in the current location of State Farm Insurance.

The pictures above and below show the gas pumps in front of the bus garage.

Neil is here with the Motorola radio system that connected the 18 school busses and 3 mini-busses with control consoles in the garage, the office, and living quarters adjacent to the office. Purchased in 1969, the system greatly increased safety and efficiency of the bus service.