Ramsey County History Magazine: Volume 38-2 Summer 2003

Ramsey County History magazine offers a wide variety of articles on the people, places and history of Ramsey County.

Volume 38

Volume 38, Number 2: Summer 2003

Fog and the Dark of an October Night—The Fabled Wreck of the ‘Ten Spot’ in Its Plunge Twenty-five Feet to the Mississippi Below
Author: David Riehle
Shortly before 6:00 A.M. on October 15, 1912 with the landscape covered in a dense fog, a bridge tender on the Terminal Bridge heard a long blast from a riverboat. It was a signal requesting that he swing open the swing bridge over the Mississippi River south of St. Paul. The bridge tender blew back to say “all right” and then sent a horn message to tell the approaching train to wait. But, unfortunately, the engine, known as “Ten Spot,” went forward and plunged downward into the river. No one knows exactly what happened and there were varying versions of this tragic accident. Perhaps the train engineer mistook the messages or the engine’s air brakes failed. Some railroaders believed the Ten Spot was a bad luck machine and that was the cause of the wreck.
PDF of Riehle article

Fear a Powerful Motivator—A Harvest of Victims: The Twin Cities and St. Paul’s Traumatic Small Pox Epidemic of 1924
Author: Paul D. Nelson
The Twin Cites most traumatic encounter with smallpox took place  in 1924–25. There were two different variations of smallpox and at the time the local health departments’ only tools to fight this deadly disease were education, persuasion and quarantine. There was a pattern of infection in Minneapolis but not in St. Paul and charts included in the article show this. St. Paul hired many physicians for inoculation duty. Minneapolis officials, however, kept claiming that there was no problem in their city. Some businesses, such as Schoch’s Grocery Store, required employees to get vaccinated. Several sidebars explain smallpox and provide the names and addresses of all the St. Paul residents the epidemic killed.
PDF of Nelson article

The Story of Minnie Dassel: Was She a Mysterious ‘Countess’ Who Settled in St. Paul?
Author: Paul Johnson
This is the story of a woman who worked in St. Paul for fifty-five years in the late nineteenth century. Some people thought that Minnie Dassel was secretly a German countess and that her parents had given up their title for political reasons. She came to Minnesota around 1870 with her brother. Her obituary said she once “had money” and moved in high social circles, but she claimed that her brother lost all their money in bad investments. So she mastered shorthand to earn money and often gave it away to charities. Minnie was the partner of a German military officer, but they never married.
PDF of Johnson article

Growing Up in St. Paul: ‘I Didn’t Know If We Were Rich or Poor—Times Were Idyllic Then … We Roamed at Will’
Author: Carleton Vang
The author said he grew up not knowing whether the family was rich or poor. They first lived on Thomas Avenue above a grocery store. Then his father moved them to a new home at Almond and Aronia near the State Fair Grounds. He remembered learning the Palmer Method of handwriting at Tilden School. There was a site behind the streetcar dump where he and friends “skinny dipped.” His first BB gun was the famed Red Ryder carbine. Vang believes that his experiences were almost “idyllic” and there was no fear of roaming at will in a neighborhood that was “a place of infinite fun.”
PDF of Growing Up in St. Paul

Book Reviews

John O. Anfinson, The River We Have Wrought: A History of the Upper Mississippi (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2003).
PDF of Book Reviews

PDF of Letters to the Editor