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.

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June 28, 1964: Minnehaha Falls pumped up for LBJ visit

Posted by: Ben Welter under Minnesota History, Minnesota newsmakers, Government Updated: June 26, 2014 - 4:39 PM
Barack Obama isn't the first U.S. president to visit Minnehaha Falls. The falls were barely a trickle the week before President Lyndon Johnson visited the Twin Cities in June 1964. His itinerary included a brief stop at the falls, prompting the Minneapolis  Park Board to arrange for water to be pumped into the creek and embellish the scene. Here's the resulting Kodak moment, shot by the Tribune's Duane Braley:
LBJ looked unimpressed with the view. If only the Park Board had thought to hire a daredevil kayaker.

July 17, 1904: San Quentin's war on 'mariguana'

Posted by: Ben Welter under Minnesota History, Crime Updated: June 20, 2014 - 3:33 PM
You won’t find the word “marijuana” in the Minneapolis Tribune in the paper’s first 55 years. An alternate spelling, “mariguana,” appeared just once: in this somewhat confusing story about the war on the “deadly” weed at California’s San Quentin prison.

You might be surprised how many times the word “opium” appeared in the Tribune in that span: 6,399.


SAN FRANCISCO, Cal., July 16. – The prison officials at San Quentin will war on the deadly mariguana weed. Warden Tompkins has instructed Captain Harrison to detail guards and trusty Indian prisoners, who are familiar with the weed, to go over the prison grounds, inside and out, and dig out every weed found.
San Quentin is used to surprises, but the story of the growth of the plant within the prison limits, and its enjoyment by the convicts, caused a stir in the official atmosphere of the institution that the convicts will have to surrender their canary birds, as it is feared that the wily convict is turning the Indian hemp seed diet of his pet into a powerful narcotic. Mariguana and Indian hemp seed must leave the prison. Both are rivals to opium.
Mariguana is worse than opium or its preparations. It is made into cigarettes and a few strong puffs are inhaled into the lungs. If its use stops here the smoker is mildly intoxicated. If he goes further with the smoking, he becomes really drunk, and a few additional puffs overthrows his mind and he becomes a lunatic. He will run backward, imagining that all sorts of beasts are pursuing him. His condition becomes similar to delirium tremens.

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

Posted by: Ben Welter under Minnesota History, Transportation 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.

June 2, 1914: Crush a can, save a cat

Posted by: Ben Welter under Minnesota History Updated: June 2, 2014 - 6:54 PM
Long before sea turtles were becoming entangled in six-pack rings, Twin Cities cats were getting their heads lodged in empty tin cans. From the Minneapolis Tribune:
  What cat could resist this 1915-era can, with its nautical theme and the inevitable association with seafood? Image courtesy of

Ordinance Demanded to
Keep Cats from Poking
Heads into Tin Cans

When the Minneapolis Humane society meet at 11 a.m. today, it may consider the request of Mrs. William Talmadge of St. Paul, who has asked W.W. Bradley, secretary, to lay before the members the need she sees for an ordinance providing that all tin cans, on being emptied, be flattened, in order to make it impossible for wandering and curious-minded cats to insert their heads.
Mrs. Talmadge’s compassion was aroused by the plight of her own pet cat, which got its head in a can and lost one of its nine lives.
It is possible that some inventor will come forward with a non-refillable tin can, and thus obviate the canning [of] the cats.
1905 Furness and cat
Another St. Paul woman of the period, Laura Furness, had a weakness for cats. The Minnesota Historical Society's online collection has more than 100 photos of Furness, granddaughter of Minnesota's second governor, Alexander Ramsey. Several of the photos, including this one taken at the Ramsey House in 1905, show her embracing a cat. (Image courtesy of

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

Posted by: Ben Welter under Minnesota History, Crime, Transportation 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.


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)


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