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Posts about Minnesota Parks

May 3, 1959: Let’s go car camping!

Posted by: Ben Welter Updated: August 10, 2011 - 12:41 AM


A Tribune photographer followed the Donald F. Anderson family of Minneapolis into the wilds of northern Minnesota and captured the images below for Picture magazine. Did your parents take you camping? Did you rough it in the Boundary Waters or Glacier National Park? Or did you head for a nearby state park in a Country Squire station wagon packed with a canvas tent, camp stove, sleeping bags, air mattresses, fishing gear, board games and coolers full of food and drink?

Station Wagon Camping

THE STATION WAGON has revolutionized car camping. “Station wagon camping” is a new term in our language. You begin to understand it when you see a family (in this case, the Donald F. Anderson family, 4641 S. Washburn Av.) vacationing beside some Minnesota lake with all the comforts of home in camping gear. These photos were taken near Ely, at Birch lake campground, one of several camping areas in the Superior national forest.
The current surge of interest in car camping is a major social phenomenon. More persons camped out last year than ever before and the trend is continuing. The manufacturers of camping equipment are fully aware of this new interest in outdoor living.
IF YOU’RE new to camping, you’re wondering what to buy to camp in comfort. You need: tent, tarpaulin, cooler, stove, camp cooking kit, lamp, air mattresses, sleeping bags and blankets. The tent is your major item. Consider seriously the tent with sewn-in groundcloth, mosquito-netting door, and a fly that shelters the doorway.

ORIGINAL CAPTION: Family camping is no longer primitive business. The Anderson family had home conveniences in a forest setting. (Tribune photos by Earl Seubert, with original captions)


On a trip, the floor space behind the front seat becomes a safe play area for Kristin, 11, and Rolf, 13.


You don't have to stay put at the camp site. You can use the campground as base of operations, go sight-seeing in the area.


Air mattresses, basic for sleeping comfort, can also be used for sun-bathing and water fun.


Station wagons are spare bedrooms for the younger members of the party. Besides flashlights your camp will need some kind of lantern.

August 2011 update: Kristin Anderson Moore, now a program director and senior scholar at a nonprofit in Washington, D.C., sent me this:

I remember this trip very clearly, as it was our family’s first camping trip. Our neighbor worked for the Sunday magazine, and they needed a typical family to try out and demonstrate the equipment. We were happy to do it, and it was fun! Both Rolf and I and our children have done a lot of camping in the ensuing 52 years. In fact, Rolf and I and our spouses are going canoeing in the Boundary Waters next week ….without the station wagon!

Dec. 21, 1890: A new name for Lake Calhoun

Posted by: Ben Welter Updated: July 23, 2011 - 2:11 PM


In November 1890, a Minneapolis Park Board committee discussed the possibility of renaming “various parks, parkways and portions thereof.” Among the suggestions: Restore Lake Calhoun’s original name, Lake Mendoza.” A month later, the board approved that change, along with several others. Some of the names have stood the test of time. Others, including Lake Mendoza, faded from use within a year or two. An editorial in the Tribune predicted such an outcome – and also mentioned a bit of history that will be of interest to those now pushing for Calhoun to be renamed Lake Humphrey.


Yesterday’s meeting of the park board was a decidedly interesting one, as it was in the nature of a christening — and there is much in the bestowal of a name, as everybody will admit. The board honored its distinguished president, and in so doing honored itself, by changing the name of Central Park to Loring Park. Mr. Loring protested, suggesting that it be called Hennepin Park instead, or, if it was to bear his name, that the honor be deferred until after his death; but his objections were of no avail, and Loring Park it is from now on. A handsomer or more appropriate compliment could not have been bestowed upon the man who has done so much to build up the magnificent park system that makes Minneapolis the envy of her sister cities of the West. At the same time the name is one of pleasing sound and a vast improvement over “Central,” which has become so common as to mean anything from a beer garden to a baseball field.
The board also wisely decided that Elliott, Steele and Murphy parks should retain their present names in honor of the liberal citizens who donated them to Minneapolis. The roadways at Harriet are to be named after the donors of the land. Hawthorne Park has been changed to Hawthorne Square. Many would have been better pleased had it been made a monument to the late Eugene M. Wilson and re-christened with his name. Kenwood and Superior boulevards will hereafter be known as Kenwood parkway — a change that will do away with much confusion. Saratoga Park becomes Glenwood Park. This is another change for the better. There is but one Saratoga entitled to the name; all others are imitations or impostures more or less rank. The tract offered by Col. W. S. King is to be named Lyndale Park when it shall be taken into the park system.
But the most striking change of all — one almost revolutionary in its character — is that by which Lake Calhoun becomes Lake Mendoza. Lake Calhoun was named, not after the great nullifier, but in honor of a Lieutenant Calhoun of early days. Mendoza is a pretty name and is supposed to be the one used by Hiawatha in referring to the beautiful sheet of water now called Lake Calhoun, but for all that, it will not stick. After a whole generation has known a lake, a mountain or a river by some particular name that name will cling to it forever more. It may be Mendoza on the maps, on the records of the park board and on the minutes of the council, but on the hearts of Minneapolitans, old and young, it is indelibly stamped as Calhoun. The changes are nearly all for the better and yesterday’s work of the park commissioners will meet with general approval.

These chaps posing on the banks of Lake Calhoun in about 1890 belonged to the Lurline Boat Club. The rowing attire of the day didn't leave much to the imagination. (Photo courtesy

June 24, 1960: Soap box derby!

Posted by: Ben Welter Updated: June 27, 2011 - 12:30 AM


As you can see in the Minneapolis Star photo below, students in Mr. Clinger’s woodworking class at Jordan Junior High School in 1960 were way past birdhouses and toolboxes. With the Minneapolis derby just weeks away, these boys were putting the finishing touches on soap box cars. Safety goggles were apparently optional. Scroll down for more photos of gravity- and kid-powered cars of yesteryear.


Here's the original Minneapolis Star caption published on June 24, 1960:

INDUSTRY AT ITS BEST can be found these days in the woodworking shop at Jordan junior high school where seven youths are at work on their soap box racers. The boys are Jack Fyten, 13, 3218 N. Lyndale Av.; Tim Fair, 13, 3035 N. 6th St.; Larry Thompson, 13, 5530 N. Girard; Lee Fjeld, 12, 2710 N. Aldrich Av.; Randy Johnson, 13, 3446 N. Washburn Av.; Bob Quigley, 14, 3230 N. Bryant Av., and Dennis DeMan, 12, 2309 Walton Pl. Instructor is James Clinger of the junior high. The Minneapolis derby will be July 9 at 12:30 p.m. at St. Anthony Blvd. and NE. Johnson St. Entries, which close Saturday, can be made with any Chevrolet dealer.


These industrious girls were building a pushmobile to race in a  Minneapolis Tribune-Park Board derby in July 1940. (Photo courtesy


Competitors in a variety of contraptions lined up for an Aquatennial pushmobile race in 1940. (Photo courtesy


Here's the original Minneapolis Tribune caption published on June 18, 1960:

The Abbott brothers of 3344 Harriet Av. are all ready to race in the 1960 Minneapolis Soap Box derby July 9. Walter 15 (left); Michael, 13; and Joel, 12, entered last year's derby, too, with Michael winning his first race. (Photo by Don Black)

1920s: Girls' rifle team was bobbed and dangerous

Posted by: Ben Welter Updated: May 17, 2011 - 4:56 PM


The young ladies below were members of the Minneapolis Park Board girls’ rifle team. Little is known about the squad beyond what can be deduced from this Minneapolis Journal photo from about 1920. The girls met for training and perhaps competitions at the Armory southwest of the Basilica of St. Mary, which is visible in the distance. Crisp uniforms, matching socks and nicely bobbed hair were required. Gun safety training? This trio must have skipped that day, judging from the careless way they pointed their rifles.

The Minneapolis Armory, built in a marshy area near Kenwood Parkway in 1907, was already showing cracks when this photo was taken. By 1929 the massive structure had settled so much in the soft ground that it had to be condemned. It was torn down in 1933. (Minneapolis Journal photo courtesy


The Armory in 1907, the year it opened. (Photo courtesy


The 1909 Minneapolis auto show, the city's second, drew about 45,000 car enthusiasts to the Armory. (Photo courtesy

April 27, 1909: Last red squirrel haunts Loring Park

Posted by: Ben Welter Updated: April 27, 2011 - 7:26 PM

Theodore Wirth had a soft spot for Minneapolis songbirds. The city’s orioles, larks and sparrows were under siege when Wirth took office as parks superintendent in 1906. Public enemy No. 1? “Boys who rob birds’ nests,” according to the Minneapolis Tribune.

In March 1909, Wirth ordered park police to enforce an ordinance that prohibited boys from bringing guns into city parks. The birds had a few four-legged enemies as well. About a dozen chattering red squirrels had the run of Loring Park, destroying eggs and young birds in the nest. Wirth instructed his officers to shoot the reds. To prevent neighboring reds from repopulating the park, he shipped in gray squirrels from Wichita, Kan. “Gray squirrels,” the Tribune explained, “are preferred in parks all over the country because they are easily tamed and do not interfere with birds at all.”

A month later, the newspaper reported, only one red squirrel remained in Loring Park:     

  Theodore Wirth in about 1915. (Photo courtesy

Last of the “Reds”
Haunts Loring Park

Grays Coming from Kansas
to Take the Charmed
Life of “Cruncho.”

Wily Bird-eating Quadruped
Successfully Dodges
Coppers’ Bullets

“Cruncho the Red,” the last of the squirrel hordes in Loring park, a defiant rebel, who is apparently bullet-proof, or at least possessor of a charmed life, roams at will through the park and chatters out a saucy defiance at Theodore Wirth, whenever he happens along. However, Cruncho has but another month in which to give up the battle and die game, or put pride behind him and hike to Kenwood parkway, where many of his relatives have flown, as persecuted patriots fleeing to a land of freedom.
In one month’s time Mr. Wirth expects to receive from Washington state a consignment of two dozen gray squirrels, which are to be installed in some newly built, just-for-two cottages, in the trees of Loring. Mr. Wirth had expected ere this to have the gray squirrels here but was disappointed.
Meanwhile “Cruncho, the Red,” he of the hated family of bird-eating squirrels, grinned sardonically at the superintendent of parks yesterday and dodged a volley of bullets from the revolver of the park policeman.

The Gardens, Loring Park, in about 1909. (Postcard image courtesy


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