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Collections Carousel – Printing Plate for 1936 Condition Map of Minnesota Trunk Highways

Printing Plate for 1936 Condition Map of Minnesota Trunk Highways, Minnesota Department of Highways

The 1930s may have been a time of economic crisis but that did not stop all progress, including the improvement of roads. This 1936 printing plate for a Condition Map of Minnesota Trunk Highways, published by the State of Minnesota, Department of Highways, in St. Paul, Minnesota, shows that most major road surfaces throughout the state had been markedly improved during the previous decades. Instigated by popular demand and the pressure of the newly formed highway lobby, which was initially funded by bicycle manufacturers, the good roads movement led to the passing of federal and state legislation and the improvement of road networks, including those in Morrison County. According to the printing plate, Morrison County’s major roads in 1936 were either paved or bituminous. Both Highway 371 and the portion of Highway 10 from Royalton to Little Falls were paved. Highway 10 from Little Falls through Randall and Cushing was bituminous. State Highway 27, the main route running east-west across the center of the county, was also bituminous.

The printing plate was donated by the family of Mary (Johannes) Fietek (1921-1984). Mary was born in Culdrum Township on October 15, 1921, to Erich and Anna Johannes. She married Clement Fietek on October 15, 1940, and had five children – Clarence, Leon, Gregory, Anna and JoAnn. Mary worked as an inspector for Munsingwear Manufacturing of Little Falls for twenty years. One of Mary’s hobbies was apparently printmaking, which came as a surprise to her children who found the printing plate and a marking stamp set while cleaning out a closet in the family home.

For more information on the history of Minnesota roads, Minnesota Department of Transportation Library or call 651-366-3791 (toll free 800-657-3774).

Printing Plate for 1936 Condition Map of Minnesota Trunk Highways (Legend), Minnesota Department of Highways


What Was There

Our helpful researcher and informal techie Marlys has passed along another cool link, this one to an online and mobile application that history lovers will like.

The app is called What Was There and it allows users to upload historic photos of places and link them up to Google Maps. You have to set up an account in order to upload photos, but  you don’t need an account to search for the photos that have already been uploaded.

Marlys has uploaded some Morrison County pictures, mostly in the Pierz/Buckman area, so if you do a search for “Morrison County, Minnesota,” you can see how the app works. No pictures of Little Falls or most other parts of the county have been uploaded yet, so there’s plenty of opportunity for you to dig out past location photos from your personal collection and add them to the site. If you do so, please let us know so we can check them out.

Atlas of Historical County Boundaries

Another online resource has come to our attention, this one via the Minnesota Historical Society’s Local History News e-newsletter.

The Atlas of Historical County Boundaries was created by the William M. Scholl Center for American History and Culture at The Newberry Library in Chicago, Illinois. The result of years worth of work, this online atlas shows the historical creation and changes of every county in the United States of America, no small feat considering there are currently over 3,000 counties and quite a number of counties have gone extinct over time.

The Atlas, which is free to peruse, contains both text and maps showing the fluidity of county boundaries between the early 1600s and the end of 2000. The Atlas was created using “the session laws of the colonies, territories, and states that created and changed the counties.” (You don’t get more primary than that when looking at research resources.)

An unusual feature of the website is that it is considered complete as it is. At the top of the “About the Project” page, the following line appears:

The Atlas of Historical County Boundaries project was successfully completed in June 2010. No further updates from the project are anticipated.

Because definitive dates (from the formation of the first county through the end of 2000) were chosen for the map project, once the data had been gathered, digitized, and uploaded to the internet, the website could be declared finished once the project parameters had been achieved. That’s not typical for most websites.

Navigating the Atlas is fairly intuitive, so have a look around and enjoy seeing how the counties’ boundaries have changed. (Of course I’ve looked up Morrison County already. Fascinating, just fascinating.)

I’ve added a link to the Atlas on our Online Resources page, under the Federal / National Information Resources heading.

– Mary