Category Archives: Minnesota History

KSTP Morse Code Lessons, 1942

1942April27BCOn this day 75 years ago, April 26, 1942, KSTP radio in St. Paul, MN, began an innovative program, as described in the article shown here from the April 27, 1942, issue of Broadcasting.

According to the report, the station was doing its part to help satisfy the great demand by the armed forces for radio operators, by conducting weekly programs designed to teach young men and women the international Morse code.

The weekly program aired Sundays at 9:30 AM, and “used drama, as sugar-coating for the lessons.” It was built around a small family, one of whom was an amateur operator. Script writing was done by Jack Hill of the St. Paul Radio Club, using lessons from the American Radio Relay League.

After the third week’s episode, the station planned to incorporate “teaser announcements” into the program in an effort to determine how many would be interested in lessons one night a week in classrooms in Minneapolis and St. Paul. The St. Paul Radio Club would furnish instructors for those courses.

The program seems to have been a great success, as reported in the September 1942 issue of QST (pp. 80-81). The fifteen minute weekly programs resulted in a total of 325 Twin City residents signing up for the classes, initially held at KSTP’s Minneapolis and St. Paul studios, with advanced students moving on to classes at the YMCA.

According to QST, transcripts of the radio broadcasts, featuring the “Strong” family, were available by mail by writing to Hill at 1138 Fauquier Avenue (now known as Bush Avenue) in St. Paul.



WTCN-FM Minneapolis, 1947

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Seventy years ago, the February 1947 issue of FM magazine carried this two-page ad from Federal, proudly showing off the transmitter and 80-foot-tall 8-element antenna of WTCN-FM, then on 96.1 MHz, (now KTCZ at 97.1) atop the Foshay Tower in Minnneapolis, then the city’s tallest building.

Thanks to the antenna gain, the 3 KW transmitter put out an effective radiated power of 25 KW, allowing excellent reception over the 30,000 square mile area shown on the map, extending from Duluth to Albert Lea.

Shown at the bottom is the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra, whose broadcast over the station allowed listeners at home to tune in to the same brilliance and tonal quality as the studio audience.

One of the inset photos at the bottom shows Minnesota Governor Luther Youngdahl. At the bottom right, conductor Dimitri Mitropoulos is listening to his own orchestra over the air during a rehersal, which he proclaimed to sound “wonderful” and “magnificent.”



1957 TV Network

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This map in the January 1957 issue of Radio Electronics, shows the status of the TV networks sixty years ago (in black), ans shows the explosive growth from the network as it had existed just six years earlier in 1950 (in red). By 1956, most American and Canadian cities were on the network, and were capable of receiving live network programming by this network of coaxial cable and microwave links. By 1957, a certain amount of redundancy was developing. For example, in 1950, Minneapolis-St. Paul got its first link, via coaxial cable to Des Moines, which was in turn linked to the nationwide network via microwave relay from Chicago. By 1957, there is a second link shown from Chicago through Wisconsin.

The diagram also shows at least two interconnections between the U.S. and Canadian networks. The U.S. Network was operated by AT&T, which had coast-to-coast service in place by 1951.

1957janradioelec2The issue also carried a listing of all stations then on the air.  The Minnesota listing here reveals that in the Twin Cities, channels 4, 5, 9, and 11 were at their familiar spots on the dial.  In Duluth, channels 3 and 6 were on the air, and Austin and Rochester each had one station.



Happy New Year!

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Happy New Year from OneTubeRadio.com!

As we enter 2017, we look back 75 years to January 1, 1942, the first New Year’s Day of the War. The nation’s industry was already largely on a wartime footing, as shown by these night shift workers at the Northern Pump Company in Minneapolis. They took a half hour break to don paper caps and give 1942 a short defiant cheer. Then, they went back to work making anti-aircraft guns for the Navy.

The company was founded in 1929 by the merger of Northern Fire Apparatus Company and the Pagel Pipe Company. It moved to the Fridley plant shown here in January 1941. In 1942, it created subsidiary Northern Ordinance Incorporated. Northern Ordinance continued naval production until 1964 when it was purchased by Food Machinery Corporation (FMC), which operated the site until 1994. BAE Systems currently owns and operates the Fridley site.

Northern Pump currently operates in Grantsburg, Wisconsin.

This photo appeared in the January 12, 1942, issue of Life Magazine.



KSTP St. Paul, MN, 1941

1941dec22bcWith America’s entry into the war, the nation’s broadcast stations were essential to inform and warn the public, and to maintain morale. As such, they were placed under military protection.

The photo shown here appeared 75 years ago today, in the December 22, 1941, issue of Broadcasting magazine.  It shows a military policeman, stationed at Fort Snelling, standing guard over KSTP, St. Paul, MN.  The caption notes that the station housed both the 50,000 watt main transmitter as well as an auxiliary 5000 watt transmitter with its own tower.  Both transmitters had been equipped for code transmission on Army and Navy frequencies.

kstptransmittersiteThe transmitter site remains at the same location today on the east side of U.S. Highway 61 in Maplewood, MN.  The modern image here is the Google street view.



Can America Be Bombed? November 1941


1941nov22pghpostgazSeventy-five years ago today, only two weeks before Pearl Harbor, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for November 22, 1941, posed the question of whether America could be bombed, and included contradictory answers:  Yes, an air raid was possible, but a Coventry-style attack on the Continental United States would be impossible, as long as America or a friendly navy controlled the Atlantic.

The article didn’t mention the Hawaiian or Philippine Islands which would be so obviously in the news in a fortnight.  However, it did look at the Pacific situation on the continent.  From Japan, air raids could possibly be made against Alaska.  If Siberia fell into enemy hands, then most Alaskan bases could be raided at will.

The focus of the article was a traveling exhibit put together by the Science Museum of Minnesota.  After being displayed in Minnesota, the exhibit was on tour, and was making its first stop in Pittsburgh.



“Vision of Peace,” 1936

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Eighty years ago, the October 1936 issue of Popular Mechanics featured the familiar “Vision of Peace” sculpture in the Ramsey County Courthouse-St. Paul City Hall. The sculpture had been unveiled earlier that year.

The sculpture was created by Swedish sculptor Carl Miles, and is based on his own vision of Native American spirituality, with no connection to any particular Native American beliefs. It depicts five Native Americans seated around a fire holding their peace pipes. Emerging from the smoke is an unnamed god of peace speaking to all the world.

The statute originally honored the Minnesota soldiers who died in the First World War. Subsequently, names of those who died in other wars have been added. The name “Vision of Peace” was given in 1994, during a ceremony involving the three major Indian tribes of Minnesota.

The 60 ton 38 foot statue sits on a revolving base which turns 132 degrees every 2.5 hours.



Univ. of Minn. Electrical Engineering Bldg., 1926

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1926septradiobroadcastjanskyShown here ninety years ago is the Electrical Engineering Building at the University of Minnesota, from the September 1926 issue of Radio Broadcast magazine.

The magazine reported that the entire top floor of the building consisted of communication laboratories, principally devoted to radio instruction.  It was under the direction of Prof. C.M. Jansky, Jr., who believed that the program was the equal of any in the United States.

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Al’s Radio Service, Owatonna, MN, 1941

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This ad for Al’s Radio Service of Owatonna, Minnesota, was reproduced in the Mailbag column of the August, 1941, issue of Radio Craft magazine,

along with a letter from the shop’s proprietor, Alfred J. Beauchamp. He reported being a regular reader of the magazine for eight years, during which time he saw many different service shops pictured. However, he reported that he hadn’t seen one that was as modern, up-to-date and complete as his. He asked the magazine to run his ad as a challenge to other servicemen readers. The editor obliged, but also noted that one motivation might have been “as a free ad?–Hi!”

The ad noted that Beauchamp had recently added to his staff a radio engineer and technician of outstanding ability and training. That individual was presumably Myron C. Jones, whose name appears next to Beauchamp’s in the ad. The ad noted that Al’s repaired all makes of radios, and was an authorized service station for Philco, Motorola, and General Motors car radios. While the shop did not sell radios, it was the only shop in the territory completely equipped to satisfy sound equipment needs, and had public address systems for sale or rent, as well as Dorafone office call systems and other inter-office communication systems.

The shop was located at 128 W. Pearl, Owatonna, Minnesota.

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NPOTA: North Country Scenic Trail, Jay Cooke State Park, MN

JayCookeToday, I did a National Parks On the Air (NPOTA) activation of the North Country National Scenic Trail, a hiking trail that extends from eastern New York to North Dakota.  My operating location was in Jay Cooke State Park, Minnesota, about 25 miles south of Duluth.  My operating location is shown here.  The radio itself, my  Yaesu FT-817, is barely visible propped up by the bright blue canvas bag, in front of the dark blue bag.  The 12 volt battery is on top of the bright red bag, and my lunch is inside the dark red bag.  The cable going up to my antenna is visible, but the antenna, a 20 meter dipole tied to trees with string, while in the frame, is not visible.

During NPOTA, amateur radio operators set up portable stations at National Park units and make contact with other amateurs at home.  The event has been very popular, and there have been hundreds of thousands of contacts made from the parks.  Since the event includes all units of the National Park Service, the North Country Trail qualifies as a “National Park,” allowing me to operate from one of the Minnesota state parks crossed by the trail.

During today’s activation, I managed only four contacts, the furthest being Mississippi.  According to the Reverse Beacon Network, my signal was getting out.  Unfortunately, many chasers don’t bother looking for stations.  They wait until they’re spotted on the internet, and then work them.  So making that first contact can be a challenge.  Since I was only there for a brief stop over lunch, I didn’t bother persisting to make six more contacts.  But I’ll be operating from this spot again on June 5 as part of the Light Up The Trail event being done in conjunction with NPOTA.  During that event, stations will be set up at various locations along the North Country Trail.  I decided to do a trial run today, since I’m in Duluth to present a Continuing Legal Education program on Friday morning, and then serving as a delegate to the Minnesota Republican State Convention on Friday and Saturday.

The swing bridge at Jay Cooke State Park was washed away.

2012 flooding of bridge. USGS photo.

Swinging Bridge prior to 2012 flood. Wikipedia photo.

Jay Cooke State Park was originally created in 1915 by a donation of land from the St. Louis Power Company. It remained undeveloped until the 1930’s, when the Civilian Conservation Corps built many of the park’s structures, including the iconic Swinging Bridge over the St. Louis River. The bridge was destroyed by flooding in 2012 but subsequently rebuilt according to the original plans. As you can see from the picture at the top of the page, my operating location was near the bridge and near the River Inn visitor center in the picture shown below, also constructed by the CCC.  The North Country Trail passes over the Swinging Bridge, putting my operating location well within the 50 yards from the trail required by the NPOTA rules.

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River Inn Visitor Center, Jay Cooke State Park. Wikipedia photo.

This stretch of the St. Louis River consists of a long rapids impossible to traverse by canoe. Therefore, both Native Americans and Europeans portaged around the rapids, and this portage remained in use until the 1870’s.

Starting in the 17th century, the portage was used heavily by fur traders, since it formed part of the route from the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River basin.  The voyageurs had to traverse the 6.5 mile portage through the area, carrying two or three packs weighing about 90 pounds each.  It took three to five days to cross the portage, and the voyageurs doing so would be covered with mud and insect bites.  My activation today was not quite so strenuous.  It required me to carry my complete station, including battery, radio, and antennas, weighing a total of about 10 pounds, a total of about 100 yards from the parking lot to the picnic area.  And even though I got mostly skunked, I bet the voyageurs who traversed the area a few centuries ago would never dream that it would someday be possible to toss a wire into a tree and talk halfway across the continent with a piece of equipment that would have made only a small dent in their 90 pound packs.

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