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Posts about Transportation

June 8, 1941: Plane noise a nuisance in south Minneapolis

Posted by: Ben Welter Updated: March 19, 2014 - 12:10 AM
Complaints about airport noise date back further than you might have guessed. Here a Minneapolis Tribune reader registered his displeasure with the “inconsiderate pilots” of low-flying planes.

Low-Flying Planes Again
a Nuisance in the City

To the Editor: Of all the candidates for political office, none has asserted himself as to the low-flying plane nuisance in south Minneapolis.

Again this summer inconsiderate pilots of sightseeing planes use the city airport at a very nominal expense to fly passengers. Many times we hear motors stalling and sputtering, while we notice the pilot attempting to glide his plane back to the airport. One plane had forced landings last summer so often that it finally landed in a cemetery.  

When I speak of this nuisance I do not mean in the immediate vicinity of the airport. I mean all the district north of Fiftieth street and beyond Franklin avenue.

Improper observance of the city ordinances in respect to low-flying planes has reduced property values in south Minneapolis by $500 to $3,000 during the summer months. If you question that statement, try selling your property in summer. This loss of real estate value is a loss of taxes as well.


This Grumman amphibious airplane, parked at the Naval Reserve Air Base at Wold-Chamberlain Field in October 1940, looks mighty noisy. Wold-Chamberlain, named after two local pilots killed in combat during World War I, was renamed Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in 1948. (Minneapolis Times photo)

Feb. 3, 1917: ‘Klan’ parade kicks off Minneapolis auto show

Posted by: Ben Welter Updated: March 8, 2014 - 1:53 PM
The 2014 Twin Cities Auto Show, which opens this weekend, features food trucks, an off-road Jeep course, a complimentary child seat safety check, and appearances by Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio and Wild defenseman Ryan Suter. The 1917 Minneapolis Auto Show featured a large cafe; 10 huge, brightly lit showrooms; and a parade by hundreds of men, women, girls and boys dressed in … Ku Klux Klan outfits? In all its breathless coverage of the show, the Minneapolis Tribune never clearly explains the reason behind the “spectacular” parade garb, other than give a nod to its promotional value. Each costume featured the name and location of the show in big block letters. Because nothing sells cars like the hooded costumes worn by a group dedicated to maintaining white supremacy.

Record Breaker
1917 Auto Show
to Start Today

Has Twice as Many Exhibits as Any Previous Event.


Time Is All Week – Place, Mazda Building, Broadway Near Central.

The 1917 Auto show, the tenth, given annually under the auspices of the Minneapolis Automobile Trade association, will open this morning at the National Mazda Lamp building. Aside from probable delays in the arrival of some of the displays coming from the Chicago Auto show on account of extreme weather, 10 great show rooms, averaging each 12,000 square feet of floor space, will have their exhibits in place, classified so as to afford direct comparisons of models of more makes than will be shown at any other auto show this year.

Twice As Big This Year.

Emily Garfield and Winifred O'Malley modeled the Klan costumes for the Tribune a week before the big parade. Some of the lettering on the back -- "AUTO SHOW" -- is visible on the capes. The accompanying story reported that the $1.15 suits were being made "in all sizes and shapes so they will fit boys, girls, men and women of various proportions," and that 5,000 orders were expected.

The show will be double the size and have double the number of exhibits and floor space of any previous show, equalling the great auto shows held at New York and Chicago in all essentials and surpassing them in some.

As an advance spectacle 300 automobiles decorated in white and black, many with white plumes and flags and each bearing white robed and white hooded “night riders,” took part in a Ku Klux Klan auto parade which toured the downtown district yesterday afternoon and then paid a visit to the St. Paul outdoor sports carnival.

About 800 persons braved the below-zero weather to take part in the demonstration. As the autos progressed though the principal business streets, small guns, resembling in miniature those used in the European war to bring down aeroplanes, and mounted on the back seats of many of the cars, kept up a continual cannonading.

A Sea of Automobiles.

The Mazda building yesterday afternoon and last evening looked like an island entirely surrounded by automobiles. In addition to the many cars that were waiting in line to be hoisted by elevators to upper floors, there were trucks loaded with accessory displays and the exhibits of East Side manufacturers for the industrial section.

Manager Walter R. Wilmot had given positive orders, backed by the board of directors, that no exhibits are to be received this morning after 9 o’clock, in order that the final hour before the opening may be devoted to getting in readiness to receive the public.

Inside the building there were men at work on all four floors a good part of the night and by this morning the wonderful transformation of a great building, constructed for modern factory purposes, into a vast show house, ornately decorated and brilliantly lighted, will have been accomplished.

Atmospheric tings have been given to some of the rooms by colors, panel decorations and light effects. In others there are gay birds of plumage. There is a Domino room, a Red room, and a Mikado room with Japanese ornamentation and the entrance hallway has all the colors of the rainbow.

Concession to Sightseers.

A new feature is a large café with fully equipped restaurant service and space for dinner dancing, which is a concession to the sightseeing element that regards an automobile “show” as really a show, and not the display of new inventions, new designs, new conveniences and luxuries, which it really is.

People will see an auto show this year arranged not so much as a spectacle, as at the Armory shows, as for the purpose of giving dealers a chance to show goods to people who have come to make purchases or get information, instead of entertainment. …

Band Heads Klansmen.

Leading yesterday’s Ku Klux Klan parade was a decorated Willcox truck carrying a 20-piece band. Directing the band was a nine-foot-tall Klansmen.

The L.S. Donaldson company had an automobile massed with flowers. It was winner of the $75 prize offered for the best decorated car in the St. Paul carnival parade.

Harvey Mack, G. Roy Hill, V.J. Stromquist and John S. Johnson were parade marshals. Due to impeding traffic, sections of the parade became lost, and during part of the procession downtown, cars scurried from street to street seeking the main body.

Cars were parked in St. Paul after the parade and the Klansmen mingled with the carnival celebrators and many stayed over to attend the pageant at the Auditorium in the evening, their grotesque suits being conspicuous among the carnival costumes of many colors with the time and place of the holding of the 1917 Auto show conspicuously printed on their backs.

Built in 1914, the Mazda Lamp Building at Broadway and Jackson Streets NE. had the capacity to manufacture 25,000 Mazda light bulbs a day. But within a few years the technology was obsolete, and in 1917 the cavernous space was used for the 10th annual Minneapolis auto show. The Minneapolis School District bought the building in 1930, and it served as district headquarters for more than 60 years. A developer bought the property last year with plans to turn it into 170,000 square feet of "creative-use" office space. (Photo courtesy of Hennepin County Library's Minneapolis Collection)


Oct. 20, 1899: How to move 120 tons of bridge

Posted by: Ben Welter Updated: October 25, 2012 - 3:38 PM


Over the past 150 years, five bridges have spanned the Mississippi at Wabasha Street in St. Paul. The first, a wooden Howe truss span known as the St. Paul Bridge, was completed in 1859. The second, built in 1872, was of the same design. The third was built in about 1884. That bridge was, according to a rather dated page on St. Paul’s website, an all-iron Pratt truss, “an innovative version known as a Whipple double-intersection Pratt.” Innovative, perhaps, but not enduring: Five years later it was replaced by an iron cantilever deck-truss that served the city for a century before the high cost of maintenance and repair spelled its doom. The current Wabasha Street Bridge, a concrete segmental box girder bridge, was completed in 1998.
The 1889 bridge was built in two parts, first the north section and, 10 years later, the south section. The latter project required that a 120-ton span of wood and iron be moved 50 feet, from temporary wooden piers built downstream to permanent masonry piers. In the story below, the Minneapolis Tribune explained how six men, without the aid of horses or steam power, completed the job in just eight hours. The feat was described in detail in the January 1900 issue of the Journal of the Association of Engineering Societies.

Bridge Moving
by Modern Methods

Six men moved the 120 tons of wood and iron contained in one span of the Wabasha street bridge, St. Paul, 50 feet Wednesday, and they didn’t make much fuss about it as an expressman would in getting a trunk upstairs. The men were not unusually tired after their feat, for screws and compound levers accomplished what their hands could never have done and completed a task in which it would have been dangerous to have used machinery.
By the aid of screws and rollers the men pulled the bridge the entire distance in eight hours. The lifting and trussing of the bridge requiring a week or more, and it will take almost that long for each of the other two spans that will have to be moved. After all this is done the approaches will have to be shaped up and the connection made with the permanent portion of the bridge.
An attempt was made at first to move the bridge without the use of rollers, but it was found the friction was too great and that it could not be done. The rollers are simply iron bars cut in short sections, and as fast as they roll out from under the plate they are placed in front again. A screw mechanism is employed at each end of the span. In moving the bridge it is necessary to exercise the greatest care to avoid demolishing the old piers.
The contract for moving the old bridge amounts to $7,500 and for building the approach $40,995.
A photo from the January 1900 issue of the Journal of the Association of Engineering Societies - thanks, Google Books -- shows a 120-ton section of St. Paul's Wabasha Street bridge being maneuvered into place.


The fourth Wabasha Street bridge, shown here in about 1900, was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1989. (Photo courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society


Sept. 20, 1941: New locomotive gets a taste of Minnehaha Falls

Posted by: Ben Welter Updated: May 29, 2011 - 11:34 PM
Seventy-six years ago this week, the Milwaukee Road introduced high-speed rail service between Minneapolis and Chicago. The Hiawatha line used steam locomotives at first, transitioning to diesels in the 1940s. The trip took as little as seven hours, with speeds topping 100 mph. Below are a few photos of the Hiawatha, which made its last run in 1971.


The Star Journal’s caption didn’t offer much detail on this photo, aside from Miss Lowell’s home address, 1808 Emerson Av. S. Fortunately, the Milwaukee Road’s official magazine used the image on the cover of its October 1941 issue and treated readers to this wonderfully detailed caption:

Just prior to the departure of the new 4,000 h.p. Diesel electric Hiawatha locomotive from Minneapolis on train No. 6 Sept. 20, the locomotive was christened by Miss Janet Lowell, the only feminine member of the Twin City chapter of the Diesel Locomotive Fans Association. Arrangements for the christening were made by A.F. Dredge Jr. of Minneapolis, president of the chapter; the entire membership was in attendance. Used in the christening ceremony was a bottle of water taken from nearby Minnehaha Falls where, according to Longfellow, Hiawatha wooed and won his Laughing Water. To make certain that the Diesel fan who fetched the water actually got it from the Minnehaha Falls and not from the hydrant in his own back yard, the very exacting Diesel Locomotive Fans Association required him to sign an affidavit indicating that he went, dipped, and returned.

Shown at the ceremony are, left to right: Miss Lowell; D.T. Bagnell, superintendent of the LaCrosse & River Division; and E.F. Conway, captain of police, Minneapolis; the men at the right of the picture are, left to right: Carl Frank, electrician; M.S. Huber, locomotive engineer; and William Sukau, maintainer for the Electro-Motive Corporation.


Interior of a Hiawatha dining car in about 1935. (Photo courtesy


A fireman at the controls of a Hiawatha steam locomotive in about 1936. (Photo courtesy


A Hiawatha lounge-observation car at the Milwaukee Road Depot, Minneapolis, 1948. (Star Journal photo)


Interior of the lounge car, complete with fresh-cut flowers. (Star Journal photo)

March 23, 1921: Evolution 'awfully hard' on a man's figure

Posted by: Ben Welter Updated: March 24, 2012 - 5:14 PM
A “Detroit scientist” shared his bizarre theories on the front page of the Minneapolis Tribune:

First 24 Million Years
Going to Be Awfully
Hard on Man’s Figure

After That He’ll Be 132 Inches
Tall, Have Legs Like Pipe
Stems, Says Scientist.
Universal News Service
Detroit, March 22. – Man is growing so big that in time he will have to get off the earth.
He will be in the same class with the dinosaurs and the mammoth white elephant and other prehistoric elephants.
So maintains Levi S. Gardner, Detroit scientist, inventor of the ball-bearing typewriter, the electric gun and student of evolution.
“Men will be 132 inches tall in 24,000,000 years and in a few more million he’ll be too large to live on the earth; there won’t be enough food to sustain him,” Gardner said today.
He says future man will have a spine resembling a circus pole in length.
“The automobile is lengthening men’s spines,” Gardner stated, “and it is shortening his legs. If people ride around in autos for a few million years their legs will be about the size of pipe-stems and won’t be strong enough to support the rest of the body, which will grow larger as the legs grow shorter. Men of the future will have broader shoulders and bigger heads.”
Gardner maintains that it is the jouncing of the automobile which so affects the spine. Auto manufacturers here threaten to sue him for libeling the auto industry.
Prohibition and other efforts to take temptation away from the people, if persisted in, means that the race will be eliminated before its time, according to Gardner.

Paul C. Buetow, the proud owner of a new Ford, seemed happy enough in this 1921 photo. If only he knew what a few years behind the wheel would do to his great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandchildren. (Photo courtesy



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