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Doug's Diggings: Everybody is heading south -- I went to Duluth

1960 K. of C. and Shrine Charity Game button

It's been a tough winter. We've had record cold weather, plenty of snow, plenty of messy roads and many commuter horror stories. It's no wonder that a lot of people are attempting to head south for a break from the cold weather.

For some reason, I did just the opposite - a couple of weekends back, my wife and I traveled with our sons and their wives to Duluth. We were greeted with nighttime temperatures approaching minus 20 degrees and daytime highs that didn't get above zero!

The weekend was still fun, however. We stayed at a Duluth hotel that has a water park attached, so the plan was to have a little fun in the water. Last winter we did the same thing, only at the Three Bears Hotel & Lodges & Conference Center near Warrens, Wis. Unfortunately, that facility is apparently mired in bankruptcy so my son started looking for other places that offered something similar.

Of course, a person can only spend so much time in the water, so one of my sons and I jumped into the car Saturday afternoon and visited the Lake Superior Railroad Museum in downtown Duluth. I've always been a railroad buff, and the museum was exceptional. There were plenty of real locomotives (both steam and diesel), rail cars, passenger cars, cabooses, snow removal equipment and much more. Around the edge of the displays are store fronts that resemble Duluth in the early 1900s. There is also a nice model railroad operating and plenty of opportunities to get inside the real locomotives and rail equipment.

Probably most impressive was an old steam locomotive, the Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range Steam Locomotive No. 227: The Mallet. The huge engine weighs some 566 tons in working order and stretches 128 feet in length. The No. 227 is one of the largest and most powerful steam locomotives ever constructed and was used mostly for hauling iron ore from the mines on the Mesabi and Vermillion ranges to the docks at Duluth and Two Harbors. The engine made routine work of hauling 180-190 car trains weighing more than 18,000 tons.

It had a relatively short life span, however. Built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1941, the No. 227 was retired in 1960 and replaced by diesel power. The huge locomotive consumed some 10 to 12 tons of coal an hour and evaporated water into steam at the astounding rate of 12,000 gallons per hour. The amount of coal the engine used in one hour would be enough to heat a home for two winters. It carried 26 tons of coal and 25,000 gallons of water in its tender.

Despite the cold temperatures, much of Lake Superior appeared to be open, with ice mostly along the shoreline - we drove to a beach on an island (I think it was called Minnesota Point) from Canal Park and looked to see where some large chucks of ice had washed up onto the shore of the island. Our other venture out into the cold was to dine out at a restaurant in Duluth's Canal Park Saturday night. Despite going north, the water park at the hotel was nice and warm!


I usually read some of the area newspapers just to see what's going on in communities around Hudson. A short story on the top of the front page of the Baldwin Bulletin caught my eye last week. The headline read "Baldwin ambulance chief disciplined by Village Board."

I read the story to see what sort of heinous act this fellow committed. Apparently some fellow EMTs thought they were not getting enough respect from Baldwin Ambulance Service Director Craig Nelson. The board did not find enough evidence to take any action, but did put a letter in Nelson's personnel file. Here is what the board ordered:

  • Nelson is to get someone for runs during the day so he has more time for administrative work;
  • Nelson is to delegate authority more often;
  • Nelson is to report to the Ambulance Committee on how he is reducing his work load; and
  • The Village Board requests that Nelson regularly take days off of work.

    Now I could be wrong, but it looks to me that the Baldwin Village Board is accusing this guy of working too hard!


    On the desk of the late Willis H. Miller, longtime publisher of the Star-Observer, were a couple of buttons: one was from Booster Days on July 2 and 3, 1971. It advertised "hydroplane races, carnivals, shows, water ski show, contests and prizes."

    A second button brought back a long forgotten childhood memory. The button was for the K. of C. and Shrine Charity Game (Help Us To Help Them) on July 23, 1960.

    I do remember this softball game/promotion as a kid. The reason it sticks in my mind is that there were plenty of softball games at Burton Field, most played before sparse crowds and most with a "pickup" game look.

    The Knights of Columbus-Shrine game, however, was the one time during the year when Burton Field looked - in the eyes of a kid - like something resembling a major league baseball game. Extra bleachers were set up and they were packed with people out to support the cause. The softball diamond was manicured to look as good as possible. It all had a big-time look through the eyes of an 11- or 12-year-old kid.

    In looking back at the newspaper on July 21, 1960, there was a front-page story promoting the game. It filled in a few details that I had forgotten. The K.C. Shrine game was actually held among local people who made up the teams. According to the article, "Members of the K.C. and Shrine will play a softball game, with John Hooley, Hudson, and Ed Bleier, Baldwin, as managers."

    In the next paragraph, J.F. Bannon, member of the general committee, said, "There will be four innings of the game, if the members can survive."

    The story went on the say, "The big event of the evening will be the regulation softball game between the Seven Up Bottling team of St. Paul and the Soo Line team of Minneapolis. Both teams are league champions in their cities."

    The night also included a teen dance after the game "with Sammy Sherwood of station KDWB as master of ceremonies."

    Despite all the front-page hype in the July 21, 1960, edition, there was no follow-up in the July 28 edition - so I don't know who won either of the games. The event in 1960 was the sixth annual, but if my memory serves me right, the game didn't go much beyond 1960 and may have indeed ended after that year.

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