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Posts about Transportation

June 2, 1914: Distracted driver just couldn't put his pipe down

Posted by: Ben Welter Updated: June 2, 2014 - 11:56 PM
 
I've pored over thousands of feet of Minneapolis Tribune microfilm since 2005. I believe this might be the earliest example of distracted driving -- and of the dangers of smoking.
 

A Pipe Smoker Loses His Life

 
Auto Truck Driver Crushed to Death as He Lights His Tobacco.
 
Balthasar Tschida, driving an auto truck Saturday afternoon, found his pipe had gone out just as he approached the Como avenue bridge on Western avenue in St. Paul. He turned the steering wheel over to an assistant, and the truck hit a bridge pier. Tschida was crushed against the bridge as the truck slewed. He died yesterday from his injuries. Tschida was 40 years old. He leaves a wife and seven children.

May 21, 1899: Young bicyclists top 10 mph -- and land in jail

Posted by: Ben Welter Updated: May 22, 2014 - 10:10 PM
 
Bicycling was booming in the 1890s, fueled by improved bike design and demand for cheap transportation. In the wrong hands, however, the new “safety bike” was anything but. Careless young “scorchers” pedaled furiously up and down urban streets, startling horses and pedestrians alike. Newspapers of the era regularly reported collisions that resulted in serious injuries and, on occasion, death. Across the country, bicycle speed limits were established to protect the population. In Minneapolis, the speed limit was 10 mph. And, as you’ll see in the Tribune story below, police were serious about enforcing the law.
 

CAUGHT HIM SCORCHING

 
POLICE CAPTURE THREE YOUNG MEN WHO VIOLATED AN ORDINANCE.
 
They Could Not Resist the Temptation to Indulge in a Spin Along Park Avenue Last Evening.
 
It might have been a picnic party judging from the high spirits of the three lads who were enjoying an expensive ride in the patrol wagon last night.
 
“Scorching again, old man,” cried one of the prisoners, as the patrol wagon turned into lockup alley, and a curious crowd “rubbered” as if their necks would be stretched off.
 
“He certainly was good to me,” said another, and the crowd laughed.
 
But when the iron bars shut out their view, and the youthful trio had nothing but whitewashed walls to gaze at, they began to realize their doom, and the minutes of their imprisonment began to grow into hours, at least so it seemed to them.
 
It was an ideal evening for a spin. Of course it was a little chilly, but then a spurt of a block or two helped to warm the blood. And that asphalt on Park avenue was so tempting. Who  could help but ride fast just a short distance?
 
That is where the boys made a mistake. There was a mounted policeman – that is, he was mounted on a bicycle – watching them, and he could scorch a little himself. While the boys were tearing up the pavement he was after them, and as they slowed up a little for a breathing spell, he cut across them into the curb and they had to come to a stop.
 
“Well, boys, you are my prisoners, so just come along,” said Officer Fred Williamson, as he mopped the perspiration off his forehead and gave his wheel an admiring glance.
 
The policeman and his prisoner walked up Twenty-fourth street to the patrol box at Fifth avenue, and the patrol wagon was called. A crowd of wheelmen had gathered, and they joked both with the officer and the lads.
 
As the last of the trio of alleged scorchers was hustled into the wagon with his wheel, he issued the following challenge to the policeman:
 
 “I’ll bet, officer, I can beat you in a 100 yard dash,” but Williamson was busy by this time cleaning the mud off his machine.
 
On the way to the station the prisoners had a happy time, and they did not mind the “scorching” remarks made by passing bicyclists.
 
The boys gave their names as Frank Gardner, Guy Smith [and] Clarence Hanson, and they will plead to the charge of exceeding the ordinance speed limit of 10 miles an hour. The oldest of the trio is only 18, while the other two are less than 15 years. They belong to good families, but the police use no discrimination when they are after fast riders.
 
“Well, I don’t know how I’m going to get out tonight,” woefully said one of the younger boys. “My folks are all out of town.”
 
NIce rides: A man and a woman showed off their wheels in front of the Wallof house, 2200 Sheridan Ave. S., Minneapolis, in 1898. (Photo courtesy of Hennepin County Library's Minneapolis Collection)

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.

JOHN REIHERZER, Minneapolis

 
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.

MAKES SPECIAL BID TO SIGHTSEER CLAN

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

 

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