I’m currently researching the construction of the Highway 10 / 371 bypass around Little Falls, Minnesota. The process seems to have been long and involved, with our Little Falls Transcript index indicating that the project was studied as early as 1959. Plans continued through the late 1960s, but our newspaper index ends with 1968, so I have no easy way to follow the actual construction. Other sources indicate 1973 or 1974 for construction, but a look through the summer months in the newspapers for those years yielded nothing. So, I’m backtracking, starting with 1969.
I’ve spent the day studying the Little Falls Daily Transcript and have gotten from January through June of 1969. Thankfully, I’ve run across a number of articles that mention the bypass, including one about a public meeting in Staples on May 28. Nothing yet about construction, but at least I’m making headway.
As I was finishing up with June, a researcher came in and I happened to mention what I was researching. Lo, and behold! Turns out his parents sold land for the bypass project and his brother will likely be able to give me some idea about construction dates. Spooky, eh? These kinds of coincidences are all too common at the Morrison County Historical Society.
Here’s another one. We got word today that Russell Fridley, former director of the Minnesota Historical Society, passed away on June 17, 2010. While I was flipping through the 1969 papers, I found two articles about the Lindbergh House site. Senator Gordon Rosenmeier of Little Falls had been instrumental in getting $100,000 worth of funding to develop the site from the legislature. Further, the site of the Lindbergh home was transferred from Lindbergh State Park to the Minnesota Historical Society, whose director at the time was Russell Fridley. Fridley was a driving force behind the project. (In case our readers need dates on those newspaper articles, or we need to recall them ourselves, here they are: May 19, 1969 – “$100,000 Historic Center Set for Lindbergh Park” and May 26, 1969 – “Lindbergh Historical Center Plans Set”)
Until our researcher walked in, I wasn’t going to blog about spooky coincidences. Instead, I was going to write about some of the stories I was finding in the papers, so allow me to veer left of center and mention a few of these stories. The really big national topics of the day were the Vietnam War, preparations for the Apollo 11 moon landing, and the trial of Sirhan B. Sirhan, who assassinated Senator Robert F. Kennedy. On a local level, singer Marian Anderson spoke in Little Falls, there was a series of articles on local peace officers and their duties, the Morrison County Planning Advisory Committee kept arguing at their meetings, Little Falls saw historically high employment figures (if you read that too quickly, you’ll think it says “unemployment,” but it doesn’t), Our Lady of Angels Academy in Belle Prairie closed, and work was done on Highway 27 on the west side of Little Falls. In June, Larson Boat Works caught fire, but it was quickly doused. The newspaper also obsessed over traffic fatalities, with regular articles discussing death tolls around the state. Oh, and President Lincoln got a shave and haircut.
From the February 14, 1969, Transcript article:
“Abraham Lincoln has been given a shave and a haircut as a sort of 160th birthday present. The trimming, done without fanfare, was done on the Lincoln head that appears on the U.S. penny, starting with 1969 coins.”
The article goes on to explain that the features on the penny were merely sharpened, not redesigned, because the master die, which had been cut in 1909, “had flattened the features of the 16th President”.
Getting sidetracked while doing newspaper research is not only typical, it’s practically required. There’s too much interesting news in the past that’s begging to be recalled.