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Yesterday's News

Sample Minnesota's rich history, courtesy of a microfilm archive

Nov. 18, 1903: The dangers of flash photography

The hazards of fireworks are well documented. Who knew that small explosions were an occupational hazard in the early days of flash photography? From the St. Paul Globe:


Photographer Hurt While Taking Flashlight Picture
F.B. Chapman, photographer, 438 Wabasha street, and Byron Gibbs, his assistant, 228 East Seventh street, were seriously injured last evening by the explosion of a carbide tank used by Chapman in taking a flash light picture of two bowling teams at Chris Miller’s bowling alley, 221 East Seventh.
When the tank exploded Chapman held it in his hand and his thumb and fingers were nearly torn off. The injury is considered serious, as the flesh is burned from the palm and the inside of the hand.
Gibbs was struck in the head with a flying piece of tin, and his face was badly cut, the laceration extending from the chin to the forehead. His forehead was laid bare, the tin plowing off three square inches of skin and flesh. Both Chapman and Gibbs were knocked unconscious and remained in that condition for over fifteen minutes.
The tank broke through a wooden partition in the rear of the alley, and after crashing through a window, in the rear of the building, fell in the back yard. It was torn and shattered by the force of the explosion of the contents.
The members of the two bowling clubs posing for the photograph were badly shocked by the explosion, and several were thrown to the floor.

The police ambulance was summoned by telephone, and Dr. G.A. Moore, police surgeon, dressed the wounds of Chapman and Gibbs. They were then able to go to their homes.


The Platt and Allen Bowling Alley, Lake City, Minn, in about 1900. (Image courtesy


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

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 Mendoza, faded from use within a year or two. This Tribune editorial correctly predicted such an outcome – but incorrectly reported that the lake was named for a "Lieutenant Calhoun of early days," and not for John C. Calhoun. The editorial writer was probably conflating the onetime secretary of war with the leader of an Army unit dispatched in 1817 to survey the region.

UPDATE: Since I posted this entry (a repost, actually; long story ...) on June 22, Star Tribune reporter Steve Brandt dug into Park Board records and found that the Tribune apparently got the central fact of this editorial wrong. In the board's Dec. 27 minutes that year, Calhoun is not listed among the 10 name changes approved, nor is it among name changes listed in the board's annual report for 1890. And, in an 1892 story in the St. Paul Globe, a committee member insists that the lake's name was never changed, despite what the papers reported.

Perhaps a correction is in order. If Steve can confirm that the purported change is also not listed in the board's annual report for 1891, we can safely say the change was never approved.


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.
Medoza, no "n," means "Loon" in the Dakota language; settlers apparently adopted the slightly different spelling.

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