Sample Minnesota newspaper articles, photos and ads dating back more than 140 years. Fresh items are posted weekly. Go here for tips on how to track down old newspaper articles on your own. Follow the blog on Twitter. Or check out "Minnesota Mysteries," a new book based on the blog.

E-mail your questions or suggestions to Ben Welter.

Posts about Disasters

July 14, 1890: Lake Pepin steamer capsizes

Posted by: Ben Welter Updated: July 17, 2014 - 6:44 PM
Powerful thunderstorms moved through Minnesota on a steamy Sunday afternoon in July 1890. A huge tornado, later immortalized in a Julius Holm painting, churned across Kohlman Lake, “a little summering place” in what is now Maplewood. At least seven people were killed and dozens injured.

That evening, about 70 miles to the southeast, on Lake Pepin, a much larger tragedy unfolded. A “cyclone” blew in from the west, capsizing a steamer carrying more than 100 passengers and crew up the Mississippi River. All told, 98 passengers died. A Minneapolis Tribune correspondent who happened to be on the scene told the tale in gripping — if maddeningly chronological — fashion.

(Originally posted in July 2008; reposted to clean up design, update links, add this image of the Tribune's front page and allow fresh comments.)


An Awful Disaster At Lake Pepin, Minn.

A Steamer Capsizes With 150 People Aboard.

The Wind and Waves Have no Mercy on Them.

Only Twenty Succeed in Saving Their Lives.

People Watch the Awful Struggle From the Shore.

But no One Could Lend Any Assistance.

The Storm Drowned the Cries of the Unfortunates.

A Disaster Never Before Equaled in the Northwest.

LAKE CITY, Minn., July 13. – [Special.] – What may prove the most disastrous storm in many years passed over this place this evening killing probably 100 people and damaging property to an extent that at this writing cannot be estimated. Your correspondent was visiting friends in Lake City and was sitting in the yard when what appeared to be an ordinary electric storm was noticed coming up from the West. In half an hour the whole heavens were converted into a complete canopy of lightning which was watched with interest by the brave citizens of the little village and with fear by the timid women and children. A little before dark a terrific wind struck the community and your reporter sought the shelter of the house just in time to escape being caught under a huge tree that came crashing down against the house. Windows were closed instantly and none too soon, for the cyclone was upon us and trees and houses were fast being demolished in its path.

The steamer Sea Wing about a year before the tragedy. (Photo courtesy

While my wife, in fear and trembling, sought the seclusion and protection of the cellar in company with the ladies, I assisted in closing shutters and making preparations for the worst that could be expected while trees were heard to be crashing down and missiles were striking against the house. The building proved strong enough to weather the blast, and in half an hour the worst of the hurricane had passed. As soon as the trees had been cleared away from the front of the house your correspondent started out and soon learned


Had befallen the place, that had not been equaled since the St. Cloud cyclone several years ago. People began to gather on the streets, and in a few moments the news was scattered abroad that an excursion boat with over 200 people on it was capsized in the middle of Lake Pepin. The boat proved to be the steamer Sea Wing, which came down the lake from Diamond Bluff, a small place about 17 miles north of here, on an excursion to the encampment of the First regiment, N. G. S. M., which is being held a mile below this city. The steamer started back on the homeward trip about 8 o’clock, and although there were signs of an approaching storm, it was not considered in any way serious, and no danger was anticipated. The boat was crowded to its fullest capacity, about


from Red Wing and Diamond Bluff being on board, and about 50 people on a barge which was attached to the side of the steamer. When about opposite Lake City the boat began to feel the effects of the storm; but the officers kept on the way. The storm increased as the boat continued up the lake. In 15 minutes it was at its height. Nearing Central Point, about two miles above Lake City, the steamer was at the mercy of the waves, which were now washing over the boat, and all was confusion. The boat momentarily ran onto a bar and the barge was cut loose, and the steamer again set adrift in the lake. A number of those on the barge jumped and swam ashore. As the barge also floated again into the deep water those on the barge saw the steamer as it was carried helplessly out into the middle of the lake, and as they were being tossed about on the raging waters, they were horrified a moment later to see the steamer and its cargo of 150 people


Those on the barge remained there until they were drifted nearer the shore and they were all rescued or swam ashore. Among them were two ladies who were brought to the beach by strong and ready swimmers. There were about 50 in all that were on the barge.

The events that transpired on the steamer after it separated from the barge are probably most clearly stated by those who were rescued from it about half an hour ago. It is now 12 o’clock midnight. As soon as the [storm] had begun to affect the progress of the boat, Capt. Weathern [Wethern, actually] gave instructions to run the boat into the Wisconsin shore but it was a too terrible force of wind and wave. In five minutes more the waves began to wash into the boat and fill its lower decks, and while hailstones as large as hen’s eggs came down on the heads of the poor helpless creatures which were huddled together on the top, a huge wave struck the craft on the side at the same moment that a terrific blast of wind, more horribly forcible than the others, came up and carried the boat over, all of the people on board; 150 or more were thrown into the water, some being caught underneath and others thrown into the waves.

The boat turned bottom upwards and only about 25 people were observed to be floating on the surface. These caught hold of the boat and climbed upon the upturned bottom, those first securing a position assisting the others. In 10 minutes more than 25 or so who had obtained momentary safety on the boat could observe no others of the boat crew or passengers floating on the surface of the continuing high sea of waves. Afterwards, however, as a flash of lightning lighted up the surface of the lake, the sight of an occasional white dress of a drowning woman or child was observable, but it was impossible for those who witnessed the horrible sight


Those remaining began calling for help from the shore as soon as the storm began to abate and in half an hour lights were observed flitting about on the pier at Lake City, opposite which point the upturned steamer had now been driven. Before help could reach them, however, the creatures who remained to tell the horrors of the night were again submitted to another battle with the elements, with no word of warning; and as they were just beginning to hope that they would be taken off by the citizens of Lake City, the boat again turned over, this on its side and again all of the 25 remaining souls were hurtled into the water. Of these several were drowned before they could be brought to the boat by those who succeeded in remaining afloat and again securing hold of the boat’s side. As the men hung on to the railing, in danger each moment of being washed away by the waves, one man observed the forms of two women wedged in between a stationary seat and the boat’s side, both pale in death, as the lightning gleams lit up their upturned faces. Another man saw two little girls floating past him as he hung with desperate efforts to the steamer’s side.

National Guard members survey the wreckage of the Sea Wing. (Photo courtesy

Half an hour after the passage of the storm your reporter went with others to the dock where the steamer Ethel Howard was anchored safe from the storm. It was presumed that the steamer would at once proceed to the rescue of the drowning, but when I asked the captain, Mr. Howard, if he was going out to the rescue, he replied that he was not going to run his boat away from the shore until the indication of another approaching storm had disappeared. He said also that he did not propose to run the risk of losing his boat in order to look for dead people out on the lake. Citizens of Lake City, who heard Captain Howard’s remarks, were most severe in their denunciation of this position he assumed in the face of the statements made to him that every minute might mean the saving of a half dozen lives. Many talked of taking the boat away from him by force, but there were not enough to put the threat into execution, and other means of rescue were resorted to. In a few minutes a dozen or more rowboats were manned and put out from the shore. The upturned boat was at last discovered;


Clinging to the boat were rescued and brought to the shore, most of them being men who could swim.

Among those who are known to have been on board the steamer and who are undoubtedly drowned are: Two children of C.H. Reberick, Peter Goken, his wife, five children and hired girl, Fred Sebes, wife and daughter, Mrs. Capt. Wethern and her two children, F. Christ, Wm. Blaker and family of three, Mrs. Hempting and daughter, Gus Beckmark; a Miss Flyn, Bose Adams and Ira Fulton. A full list of the 150 passengers, which are pretty certain to have been drowned, is not obtainable at this writing. A large majority of them were women and children. Those being saved being nearly all strong men, who were able to swim, and cling to the boat, after it had capsized. On the return from the capsized boat with three or four people who had been rescued, one of the row boats encountered two floating bodies, each with a life preserver attached.

In Lake City the damage to property by the cyclone is great, although no fatalities have been reported. Collins Bros.’ saw and planning mill is totally demolished. The roof of the opera house, owned by Mr. Hanisch, was carried away and the stores underneath more or less damaged by the rain and hail.

Up to this time, 1:30 a.m., 62 bodies have been found and laid out.

Julius Holm’s 1893 oil painting shows the Kohlman Lake tornado as it skirted the edge of St. Paul.

March 14, 1913: Bassett Creek, the ‘Venice of Minneapolis’

Posted by: Ben Welter Updated: March 15, 2013 - 6:59 PM
Twelve-mile-long Bassett Creek once meandered unfettered through marshlands from Medicine Lake in Plymouth to the Mississippi River near Nicollet Island. In the late 1800s, developers began filling in the wetlands near the river, but the homes were prone to flooding, and, thanks to widespread dumping of garbage upstream, the creek became little more than an open sewer. After the spring floods of 1913, described in the Minneapolis Tribune story below, the Legislature approved funding to divert the creek into a storm sewer. By 1923, the final mile and a half of the creek was underground.


North Siders Move Out:
Bassett’s Creek at Doors

Police Patrol Boat Busy Rescuing Stranded Householders and Goods.

Frozen Sewers Cause Added Difficulty in the Neighborhood Affected.
The annual overflow of Bassett’s creek, resulting from spring thaws in the low land in North Minneapolis, caused a call for the police patrol boat yesterday, and several families, isolated in their homes by the sudden rush of water during the night, were rescued from an uncomfortable position.
Water Comes Up Fast.
The water this year rose more rapidly than in other seasons and surrounded houses within a radius of two blocks. Fears are entertained that the water will undermine foundations, as has happened before. Should the water continue to rise it is probable that the fire department will be called into action to pump the water to points where sewers can carry the flood away. A number of sewers in the vicinity are still frozen and men of the sewer department are encountering difficulty in opening them.
The annual overflow of the creek, officials say, would be eliminated if sufficient funds could be procured to convert the now open creek into a closed sewer. A bond issue of $200,000 was asked of the legislature this year, but the senators thought that was excessive so they allowed only $50,000 to conduct the work during the next two years. F.W. Cappelen, city engineer, declares this amount not sufficient to pay for the work needed and there is a probability, he says, that the same conditions will keep up until some future legislature allows a bond issue sufficient to complete the work.
Stream Up to Steps.
The water reaches the doorsteps of many residences and in some instances families are forced to take refuge on second floors. The police boat works back and forth, taking people and their belongings from their homes and carrying supplies to those who are unwilling to leave their houses.
This image, taken from microfilm, accompanied the Tribune flood story. The caption provided no address or names, only this: "Preparing to move."



July 21, 1907: The Tribune Girl and the fire chief

Posted by: Ben Welter Updated: January 11, 2013 - 3:30 PM
  Nan Russell Dunnigan in 1914.

Nan Russell Dunnigan, whose work appeared under the byline “The Tribune Girl,” wrote hundreds of first-person feature stories for the Tribune between 1907 and 1914. She interviewed Sarah Bernhardt, Ethel Barrymore, John Philip Sousa, Booker T. Washington and Sir Robert Baden-Powell. She had a frosty encounter with Isadora Duncan. She attempted to interview Maude Adams, but found the popular “Peter Pan” actress to be “interview proof.”

Dunnigan took on a variety of other assignments. She made police and fire checks. She interviewed politicians and businessmen. She worked as a “Salvation Army lassie” for a day. She led Minneapolis orphans on an outing to Lake Minnetonka. In her final months with the Tribune, she traveled to Europe and filed reports from London (where she got lost), the Vatican (where she enjoyed an audience with Pope Pius X) and Belgium (which she didn’t enjoy one bit).

Her last piece appeared in September 1914. Three months later, on Christmas Day, she married George F. Authier, private secretary to Minnesota’s governor, Joseph Burnquist. Authier had just secured a new job as the Tribune’s Washington correspondent, and the newlyweds soon headed east. The Tribune Girl apparently hung up her notebook and pen. No further stories by Nan Russell Dunnigan or Nan Authier turn up in a Google search.


Tribune Girl Talks With Fire Chief
on Freak Calls of the Unsung Heroes

Canterbury and His Merry Men Relate Tales, Amusing and Pathetic, of Occasions When Alarms Meant Unusual Work for Fire Laddies When They Arrived on Scene – Settle Family Difficulties and Answer Call of Small Frightened Lass.
By The Tribune Girl.
It was a sizzling morning.
The Tribune Girl emerged from the last of the offices that she is obliged to visit daily at the court house, and in the argot of newspaperdom “had covered her run, found nothing doing, and was all in.”
Feeling thus limp and wilted (literally as well as figuratively) she sauntered into fire headquarters to cool off.
Now if there is one place in the court house that the feminine scribe feels perfectly at ease in it is the office over which Chief [James] Canterbury presides.
Everybody is so good natured and easy going around fire department headquarters, and the ladies have so many little stories that they reserve for the reporter girl that it is little wonder that she enjoys visiting this haunt of “unsung heroes.”
In the sanctum sanctorum of Chief Canterbury this scorching morning the girl found the genial chief and his first assistant, Michael Hanley. It was plain that the business that the two were transacting was not of the most minute importance, for they were lolling back in their chairs, wearing expressions of as great contentment as did Nero at the burning of Rome.
“Am I intruding?” asked the girl, knowing full well that she would receive the welcome that was accorded the prodigal of old.
She sniffed surreptitiously for the savory smell of cooking veal.
“Indeed not. Here is the easiest chair awaiting you,” spoke up the chief, who was playing host to this impromptu little gathering. “This is the only office in the place,” he continued, “where there is a breath of air and we are enjoying it by spinning yarns.”
“Here is copy, rip snortingly good copy,” thought the reporter, “if they will only talk shop,” so to prod gently she remarked: “”Do tell me about some of your unusual fire calls. I have always heard that you are called out for everything from fishing cats out of wells to assisting kites to part company with friendly telegraph poles.”
The Tribune Girl chatted with the chief, left, and his first assistant, Michael Hanley.


Fire Laddies Settle a Family Row.
“And right you are,” said the chief, “but these freak calls that give you people stories are not the ones that give us any pleasure. Get Hanley here to tell you about the family row that he was called out to settle not long ago.”
“Say that was a funny thing,” spoke up the good-natured first assistant, the man who is said to be the most popular in the service. “But it did not seem so funny then.”
As he shifted to a more comfortable position, The Tribune Girl summarily forgot whether she was in Minneapolis or Alaska, for this meant that the ball was rolling and there was no end of good material in sight.
“Well, it was about 5 o’clock one nasty rainy morning that the alarm came in,” commenced the dean of the department. “It was from a box down south not a great distance from the falls, and through the mud we tore to it. When we arrived we found it was a small chimney fire that we had little trouble extinguishing. Well, all the way back the boys cussed in all the languages they knew, for the afternoon before they had cleaned up their apparatuses and this made another job for them. Well, sir, we had been back in our respective houses about an hour and the boys had the engines just about clean again when in came an alarm from the same box. This time, I can tell you, we did not lose a minute, for all the way down we pictured the house enveloped in flames because of our negligence in not properly attending to the first blaze. When we arrived at the house we did not see as much as a whiff of smoke, and there did not seem to be trouble anywhere, but in this we were mistaken. Before we got through we found more trouble than we were looking for.
“Well, to make the long story short, after we left the first time the master and mistress of the house got into an argument over the cause of the chimney fire. He said that it was her fault and she said that “he was a ‘mean old thing, now, there,’ and, woman-like, would not be downed, so up she goes to the corner and turns in an alarm. (She would let the firemen decide.) Well, the firemen did decide, but their decision was that this was the limit of anything that they had thus far encountered. One of the fellows suggested that we form a 12-foot ring and let them settle it according to Queensbury rules, as we deserved something for playing the part of a miniature Hague tribunal, while another voiced the opinion that Chief Corriston would not be a bad one to act as referee, but the majority of the boys were too mad to speak.”
Little Lass to Blame.
At this juncture the chief lighted a fat black cigar and the girl thanked her lucky stars accordingly, not that she is overly fond of smoke, but, like most girls who are endowed with numerous brothers, real and acquired, she realized that it promised to add much to the reminiscent mood of the occasion. She was not disappointed for the chief commenced:
“That was another rather amusing call we had from the open box in front of St. Barnabas hospital one afternoon this spring. We hurried to respond and found that it was a false alarm. Now I investigate false alarms, particularly from those keyless boxes, because it is a thing that is apt to give us no end of trouble. Well, this time I thought that it was some schoolboys who were to blame, and I was not far wrong in my guess. It turned out to be about the prettiest little lass of 7 that I ever saw. It appears that the children were trooping home from school and the littlest girl in the party was ‘dared’ to turn in an alarm.
“The poor little thing was taunted until she could not stand it any longer, and in desperation turned the key. Not until the wee maid saw us coming did she realize what she had done, but when she did the poor little thing scampered home and was on the verge of convulsions when I arrived. I suppose I should have been very severe with the child, for turning in a false alarm is a serious matter with us, but when I saw her and how frightened she was all I did was to assist her mother in quieting her.”
“Isn’t he getting soft-hearted in his old days?” asked Mr. Hanley in a bantering tone, and while the girl agreed she privately voted this gallant fire fighter a perfect dear.
Many “Freak” Calls Mean Tragedy.
“While we are fortunate in having many little things happen that serve to amuse us,” continued the chief, “in the main it is the darkest side of life that we see. Most of our freak alarms as you call them mean a tragedy to some heart. We have more than once been called to remove a man who has been electrocuted at the top of a telegraph pole and whose lifeless body hung suspended from the wires. We have also taken a man off a roof who met a similar fate, as well as rescued men from sewers, cesspools and ditches. A rather pathetic thing happened last fall. We were called to extinguish a fire down on the finest part of Park avenue. On our arrival we found that the fire was out, for it was a load of hay belonging to a poor old farmer out near Osseo that had been burned. When we arrived at the scene of the recent conflagration we found the unfortunate man sitting at the door of the barn, where he came to deliver the load, completely discouraged. It appears that this was the last load of hay that he had to sell, and the wolf was knocking with vigor at the door of the home where his wife was lying ill. It was altogether as sad a case as I ever run across, and the worst part of it was that the fire was started by the mischievous ten-year-old boy of the house where the man was delivering the hay. I have often wondered if the poor old fellow was ever paid.”
A Heartrending Affair.
Seeing that a hush fell on the little group. “I remember that,” spoke up Mr. Hanley, “but speaking of sad experiences, I think that fire that occurred out on Seventeenth street southeast and Sixth street about seven years ago was the most heartrending affair that I ever witnessed. It was in the fall of the year and a woman was cleaning up the dead leaves in her yard and burning them. Somehow her clothing caught fire and it was but a moment until she was a mass of flames. Her little 10-year-old daughter ran out to her assistance and with rare presence of mind threw a rug that was on the clothes line over the woman, hoping to smother the fire. If it had been large enough it might have served its purpose but the rug was too small to be of any benefit and before the child knew it in her excitement her own garments were in flames. There, side by side, the mother and her brave little child were fatally burned and they both died on the way to the hospital.”
Just then the immaculate young fellow who attends to the business office of the department, came in to confer with the chief. At the same time Michael Hanley was wanted at the telephone, and The Tribune Girl, feeling strangely depressed, wearily left the office, wondering how the city editor would vent his wrath when she announced that “There was nothing doing at the court house today.”
Fire Chief Canterbury in his courthouse office in about 1900. (Image courtesy of


A Minneapolis fire engine and crew paused for a photo at 3rd Street and 6th Avenue S. in about 1905. (Image courtesy of



May 26, 1911: Water main bursts, floods North Side

Posted by: Ben Welter Updated: January 8, 2013 - 5:51 PM
Minneapolis was plagued by water main breaks in the early 1900s as the city struggled to meet the needs of its growing population. The water department supervisor, Edmund Sykes, was forced to resign a month after a particularly nasty break that washed out streets on the North Side and lowered water pressure citywide.

From the Minneapolis Tribune:
The Camden Place Pumping Station, also known as Pumping Station No. 3, in about 1898. (Image courtesy of


Water Main Bursts;
Floods Neighborhood

Break in New 36-Inch Feed Tube causes Damage in Camden Place.

City Engineer Believes It Was a Mistake to Lay Pipe in Winter.

Supervisor Sykes Says There Will Be No More Danger.

Property several blocks in extent in the vicinity of Forty-first avenue north and Lyndale avenue was flooded or excavated by a torrent of water which burst from the new 36-inch water main at daylight yesterday.

Homes and store buildings were flooded, sections of fences swept away, street car and railroad tracks either undermined or submerged and streets in the vicinity left with great holes in them.
But people whose property lay in the path of the raging flood were not the only persons to recognize the seriousness of the break. Immediately following the break pressure fell all over the city, and it was almost impossible to get water from the pipes in some of the higher residential sections. On account of the diminished pressure Supervisor Sykes issued a request that all persons be sparing in their use of the water.
Break Occurs Early.
It was between 4 and 5 a.m. when the break came. It was accompanied by a cannon-like noise and the torrent of water divided immediately upon leaving the main, judging by the trails of destruction which it left in its wake.
One big stream rushed northward in Lyndale avenue, tearing out curbs, ripping big holes, some four feet, in the street. It passed over the torn-out curbing and went on into the cellars of the stores and homes.    
Half way to Forty-second avenue a big portion of this immense stream tore through and past the buildings which stand in the triangle formed by Washington, Lyndale and Forty-first avenues north. It crossed Washington avenue, leaving great holes behind it, speedily swept down Soo avenue, which is a short thoroughfare leading to the pumping station park.
The two small lagoons in the park were filled with sand and bits of wreckage picked up along the route and then the water spread out over the park.
Store Basements Flooded.
But a big body of water had continued its course on Lyndale avenue, not cutting across lots as the first. It swept down upon the store buildings at Camden place.
The Lyndale hotel, from which the guests were hurrying to the street, was flooded, butter and eggs stored in the basement floating to the ceiling. The hotel garden was torn out and the blooming flowers washed away in the flood.
The basements of the Camden Steam laundry, 4200 Lyndale Avenue; the Camden Hardware company and the grocery of R.A. Findorrf, 4170 Washington avenue north, were filled with water and debris.
Down Forty-second avenue and across Camden Place the torrent swept, tearing through a fence and bursting out on the Soo Line tracks where rails were torn up by its force. Everywhere sidewalks and curbing had been swept away, the concrete curbing being taken up, twisted and torn to little pieces.
The wye track, where the Camden Place cars make their turn for the trip back to the city, were flooded and heaped with sand. So was the main line track on Washington avenue. Gangs of men were soon at work clearing and repairing street and steam railroad tracks.
Firemen Respond.
Firemen of engine company No. 20, Forty-first and Lyndale avenues, were right on the scene of the big break and they scampered from their beds and down the poles faster than when speeding to a fire. The basement of their own engine house soon was flooded, as were the homes of N. Henderson, 4046 Lyndale avenue; Mrs. Harry Rydburg, 4054 Lyndale avenue; John Halmberg, 4039 Sixth street north, and many others.
The force of the break was better understood by the residents of the vicinity when they discovered, after the water had been turned off at the pumping station, a ditch 12 feet deep and 20 feet wide at the point of the break. Other holes six feet deep along the route were common. The water pressure at the city hall gauge dropped from 60 pounds, which is norm, to 20 in a few minutes.
Dissension Is Started.
Dissension between the officials of the city engineering and water department which has been lying dormant for several months came to a head as a result of the breaking of the big main. It was the third break in two weeks and officials in the city engineering department blamed Supervisor Sykes for the accidents. Mr. Sykes came back with the reply that the accident was caused by the carelessness of the employes of the sewer department who in laying a sewer parallel to the water pipe loosened the earth which served as a support to a valve leading from the main causing it to blow out under the water pressure.
Sewer Engineer Hilstrup indignantly denied this and declared that there was about as much truth to it as there was to Mr. Sykes’ first theory that the pipe was cracked by the blasting of rock by the sewer department the day before the accident occurred.
Specifications Neglect Claimed.
Water Engineer Jensen of the city engineer’s department says that the breaks have been caused by the supervisor’s failure to follow the specifications under which the main was to be constructed. He points out that when the main blew up at the corner of Plymouth and Aldrich avenues north it was because the supervisor had neglected to connect a cross pipe between the big main and closed with a valve. The result was that the force of the water pressure blew out the valve and caused the flooding of that entire district. He charges that the break of yesterday was caused by the same neglect on the part of the water department.
City Engineer Rinker, although somewhat reticent, simply denied that the laying of the sewer had anything to do with the blowing up of the main.
“I advised strongly against laying the main in the winter owing to the frost in the ground,” said Mr. Rinker. “At points where the pipe is not laid on a bed of stone it is pretty likely to sink, putting a great strain on the pipe.”    
Spite Work, Says Supervisor.
Supervisor Sykes declares that the city engineering department is knocking the water department in every work that it undertakes. He favors divorcing the two departments, making them absolutely separate and independent of each other.
“There are too many heads to the water department,” said Mr. Sykes. “If I am to be held responsible I want to have absolute control. What we want is centralization of responsibility. This policy is being adopted all over the country. The people ought to know where to put the blame for inefficiency and where to give praise. With our department, every time there is room for praise the city engineer wants it all but when an accident occurs they place the blame on us.”
Supervisor Sykes charges that the city engineer is trying to dominate his department and has antagonized him wherever possible. He points out that when he recommended a new 36-inch main to relieve the water drought in the city last summer City Engineer Rinker opposed it as unnecessary and that it was with some difficulty that he persuaded the council committee to build the main. He also points out that when he favored the purchase of additional pumps for the Camden station, Mr. Rinker opposed it.
“They have hampered us,” continued Mr. Sykes. “They have hurt the department by criticizing it.”
Work Hurried.
Mr. Sykes explains the breaks which have occurred by the fact that the work on the main was hurried too much to satisfy the clamor of the people. He says that they wanted the main and they have it.
“There may be a few accidents, but we must give the people service,” he continued. “It is true that the main was laid in winter when there was frost in the ground. Supposing we had delayed until spring. Then there would have been another drought in the city even more serious than last year. The statements of Water Engineer Jenson that the breaks would not have occurred if we had followed specifications and connected with cross pipes with the intersecting mains may be true. But we hadn’t time to do it. The people need the service.”
Mr. Sykes holds to his opinion, however, that the break in the main on Fortieth avenue north was caused by the building of a sewer nearby. He says that he can see no other reason for the accident.
Breach Is Widening.
The breach between the two departments has been widening for several months. It was irritated when the supervision of the construction of the new filtration plant was placed in the hands of City Engineer Rinker. Supervisor Sykes feels he ought to have been the man in charge of that work as the head of the water department.
“I suppose if anything happens to the filtration plant after it has been completed we will get the blame for it,” said Mr. Sykes, “although we had nothing to do with its construction. We ought to know what kind of a plant is being built and every detail. It would be of value to us in operating the plant in the future.”
Alderman Gould, chairman of the waterworks committee, does not believe that either department can be blamed for the accidents. He declares that it is an accident which would have occurred under any circumstance and that he has no complaint to make.
Water was turned into the 36-inch main at 5 o’clock yesterday afternoon following a shutoff of 12 hours because of the accident. Water pressure rose at the city hall gauge shortly after and by evening was at its normal stage.
This postcard shows Camden Place Park, Minneapolis, in about 1909. (Image courtesy of


The Camden Place State Bank at Soo and Washington Avenues N. in about 1910. (Image courtesy of


Nov. 10, 1975: Edmund Fitzgerald reported missing

Posted by: Ben Welter Updated: November 10, 2012 - 3:20 PM
November 1975 doesn’t seem that long ago until you consider how old a recap of that month can make you feel. New York City was on the financial rocks. Karen Ann Quinlan was on a respirator. Lynette (Squeaky) Fromme was on trial, accused of attempting to assassinate President Gerald Ford. Movie buffs were flocking to the Downtown Mann to see Redford and Dunaway in “Three Days of the Condor.” Pot roast cost 79 cents a pound at Penny’s Super Markets, a Northland Bantam hockey stick cost $1.29 at Holiday Village, and a brand-new AMC Gremlin would set you back $2,889.

Gordon Lightfoot could have written a song about any of those things. Instead, he chose the Edmund Fitzgerald. Within hours of the ship's disappearance on Nov. 10, 1975, the Minneapolis Tribune’s night crew hustled to get this first sketchy report onto the next morning's front page.

[Originally posted Nov. 8, 2005]

Cargo ship, crew
Of 35 missing
in Lake Superior

By Harley Sorensen
Staff Writer

   Lake Superior Maritime Collection

A cargo ship with 35 crew members was reported missing Monday night in treacherous waters in Lake Superior, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

The 729-foot Edmund Fitzgerald was last heard from at about 7:30 p.m. about 15 miles north of Whitefish Point near Sault Ste. Marie off the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, officials said.

The ship radioed coast guard officials at Sault Ste. Marie that it was taking water. The coast guard asked another vessel, the Arthur M. Anderson, to follow the Fitzgerald.

A spokesman for the U.S. Steel Great Lakes fleet said he learned the Anderson was following the Fitzgerald at a distance of about five miles in an easterly direction toward Sault Ste. Marie. He said the Anderson, a U.S. Steel fleet vessel, reported that the Fitzgerald disappeared from sight and the radar scope at about the same time.

The Associated Press said the Fitzgerald departed Duluth-Superior at 1:15 p.m. Sunday with a cargo of 26,216 tons of taconite pellets loaded at the Burlington Northern docks in Superior.

However, a spokesman for Oglebay-Norton Co. Cleveland, the ship’s owner, said, that the Fitzgerald departed Silver Bay, Minn., Sunday bound for Great Lakes Steel Co. in Detroit.

Ed Schmid, assistant to the president of Reserve Mining Co., Silver Bay, said the Fitzgerald is the largest ship to come into Silver Bay. He said Silver Bay is its most frequent port of call.

The coast guard in Duluth said that a 180-foot seagoing buoy tender, the Woodrush, left Duluth last night to search for the Fitzgerald. He said a coast guard tugboat, the Nawgatuck, departed Sault Ste. Marie in the search. Also, he said, airplanes from an air force base in Michigan joined in the search. An Oglebay-Norton spokesman said shortly before midnight that “we haven’t given up hope yet.”

A coast guard spokesman said bad weather had plagued the search. “The seas are so bad,” he said, “it’s almost hazardous for a boat to go out tonight.”

Waves in the area were reported at 25 feet high. They were accompanied by winds gusting to 75 miles per hour, the coast guard said.

UPI photo
A UPI photo appeared in the Tribune on Nov. 12, 1975, with this caption:

“A coast guardman at Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., reached for some of the debris that washed up Tuesday from the sinking of the ore carrier Edmund Fitzgerald. The life preservers, life raft, oars and other small items were brought to Sault St. Marie by helicopter from points along Lake Superior.”


Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters