Ramsey County History magazine offers a wide variety of articles on the people, places and history of Ramsey County.
Volume 48, Number 4: Winter 2014
Citizens versus the Freeway: RIP-35E and the Pleasant Avenue
Route through St. Paul
Author: John Watson Milton
In September 1955, the National System of Interstate Highways identified the Pleasant Avenue corridor as the route for north-south Interstate 35E through the city of St. Paul, connecting with east-west Interstate 94. As St. Paul residents became aware of the negative impact of such a highway system to residential areas and famous landmarks in the city, a non-profit was formed called RIP-35E, which brought a lawsuit to halt construction of the roadway. RIP stood for Residents in Protest. The litigants included the City of Saint Paul, four neighborhood associations, and eight citizen groups. The founders of RIP-35E were Summit Hill residents Dr. Davitt Felder, James Wengler, and Thomond R. O’Brien Sr. Banker David M. Lilly was also a significant leader of RIP-35E. Because the Congress had passed and President Richard Nixon had signed the National Environmental Policy Act on January 1, 1970, the lawsuit halted construction so that the highway builders could provide the now-required Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The EIS became the centerpiece between the contesting parties. After a two-decade battle, the federal court ruled that construction of the highway could proceed with specific limitations and on October 15, 1990, the contested 3.7-miles stretch of I-35E Parkway opened with a 45 MPH speed limit (to reduce noise), limited access points, and no truck traffic. These limitations are still in effect today in spite of multiple attempts to make changes. Of the more than 47,000 miles of Interstate roadways that were built during this era, the I-35E Parkway is one of only two sections of national highway that enjoy these restrictions.
PDF of Milton article
Who Are These Young Men? The Shell Service Station at Arcade and Jenks
Author: Linda McShannock
The article discusses the activities and friendships born out of the neighborhood at Arcade and Jenks streets on St. Paul’s East Side and includes photos from March 1941. A fun-loving group of young men is pictured, including Chet Jablonski, Wally Grochowski, George Drevnick, Dan Rygwalski and Vernon Williamson. All of these young men went off to war just months after these innocent and youthful and carefree photos were taken, and miraculously, all of them returned to St. Paul safely after the war to find jobs and raise their families.
PDF of McShannock article
Fighting to Keep Seeger Running: Ralph M. Scalze and His Leadership of Local No. 20459, AFL-CIO, 1949–1955
Author: Gerald E. Scalze
A World War II veteran, Ralph Scalze was the leader of Local No. 20459 of the Refrigerator Workers’ Union of the AFL-CIO from 1949 to 1955, the largest union local at the Seeger Refrigerator Company on St. Paul’s East Side, where Ralph worked. Ralph made sure that pay and benefits for employees of Seeger were consistent with those of other major manufacturing industries around the country. One of his major accomplishments included purchasing the headquarters for Local No. 827 (the successor to Local No. 20459) in 1953, which was paid for and operating in the black by 1965. He negotiated contract increases in the average assembly line hourly wages, won provisions that paid workers during manufacturing breakdowns, brought major medical coverage and a pension plan to workers as well as death benefits and jury pay. When Seeger merged with Whirlpool Corporation in 1955, Ralph brought the International Brotherhood of Teamsters into the plant with the hope that this larger national union would have more clout. Employees, however, were disgruntled with the merger and union workers went on strike for thirteen weeks. In 1965 Scalze lost the election for president of the local and he retired from Whirlpool in 1983.
PDF of Scalze article
Larry Haeg, Harriman vs. Hill: Wall Street’s Great Railroad War (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2013).
Meyers Communications Group, producer, with the Ramsey County Historical Society and Twin Cities Public Television, University Avenue: One street, a thousand dreams (St. Paul, 2013).
PDF of Book Reviews