Winter Wonderland License Plate Topper, Circa 1947
Winter Wonderland was a popular community celebration started by the recently ordained Father Edward C. Ramacher (1917-2007). Ramacher had been assigned to a parish in Little Falls and came up with the idea to start a winter recreational event to benefit the young people of his parish as well as the entire community. The popular event ran for five years, from 1945 to 1950, and took place four miles southeast of Little Falls on property owned by a parishoner of Ramacher’s, Andrew Jarosh. One of the largest winter community events in Minnesota, Winter Wonderland came to be known as America’s Little Switzerland. Features included toboggan runs, a “Blue Mirror” skating rink, a chalet known as Ski-Esta Inn, and a Winter Wonderland Queen. In 1949, BeBe Shopp, Miss America 1948 and a Minnesota native, served as Miss Wonderland.
The metal license plate topper shown above was produced by the Vernon Company of Newton, Iowa. Founded in 1910 by F. L. Vernon, the company is still in business and is in its fourth generation of family ownership. The company started as a small local graphics agency and has grown into a promotional marketing and manufacturing firm supplying promotional items and sign graphics.
If you would like to learn more about Winter Wonderland, stop by the museum and check out our Winter Wonderland exhibit or plunge into our Winter Wonderland collection. The exhibit will run through March 2013.
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Lindbergh Bridge, Circa 1945
On May 21, 1936, the Little Falls Daily Transcript announced that Charles A. Lindbergh State Park in Little Falls, Minnesota, had received approval from the Works Progress Administration (WPA) for a $23,777 Lindbergh State Park development project. Work was to start the following week and employ between forty and fifty men. The project was to include construction of a “log kitchen shelter” in the picnic area and two bridges, one a replica of the suspension bridge built by the famous aviator, Charles A. Lindbergh, Jr. Named for Lindbergh’s father, U. S. Congressman Charles A. Lindbergh, Sr., the park got its start in 1931 when the family donated the home and 90 acre farm on the banks of the Mississippi River to the City of Little Falls. Initial improvements to the site were focused on clearing the property and securing the home from further damage by souvenir hunters. (For more information on the Lindbergh family see Morrison County Influentials). Both the log cabin shelter and the bridge exemplify the rustic design and construction that became the signature style of the WPA. Designed by architects H. Nielson and L. Taylor, the cabin was built in 1938 and includes a massive stone fireplace and peeled saddle-notched corner logs. While the bridge was later replaced, the log cabin shelter remains and continues to be used today. The original 110 acre site has expanded to encompass the park’s current size of 576 acres.
The hand-colored photo postcards of the bridge and the log cabin shelter were produced by the Albertype Company of Brooklyn, New York. Founded in 1890 by two brothers, Adolph and Herman Wittemann, the company produced over 25,000 collotype images of towns and cities from across the United States before it closed in 1952. The collotype, or albertype, was a fairly cheap and extremely accurate method for reproducing photographic images through a photomechanical process. Introduced in 1855 by Alphonse-Louis Poitevin, a French photographer and chemical engineer, the process was adapted by other French photographers and quickly became important to the photographic reproduction industry.
Log Cabin Shelter House, Circa 1945
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Minnesota’s First All-Star High School Football – Northern Team, 1945. Leo Meyer #43 (front row; sixth from left).
On August 25, 1945, Minnesota’s First All-Star High School Football Game was played at the University of Minnesota Memorial Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Among the high school students selected was Leo Meyer of Little Falls. An all-state player in 1944, Meyer was considered an outstanding star who had been crucial to the Little Falls Flyers undefeated 1944 season.
The First Minnesota High School All-Star Football Game was touted as the state’s first major sports event since the end of World War II. The game was sponsored by the Minneapolis Daily Times with the cooperation of the State High School Coaches Association, the University of Minnesota and other daily newspapers in the state. Proceeds from the event were dedicated to supporting high school athletics and physical education. According to the Minnesota All Star High School Football website, the Minnesota High School All-Star Football Game has been an annual event since 1974. First held in 1945, the game was played again the following year and then from 1952 until 1960. The game is played between two teams of outstanding high school senior football players selected from across the state. The original format was a northern versus a southern team, with the dividing line approximately at Highway 7. Leo Meyer, a “giant tackle” at 212 pounds, was selected to play on the northern team. The northern team won the game 44-7.
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