Archive for March, 2009

Red River Flood, 1952.

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009


Click for full image

Mrs. Colin Campbell would not be ousted from her home: she is standing on the roof of her back porch, after climbing out a second story window. The water is about 4 feet away from covering her feet, but she was non-plussed; in the accompanying article, she defied police attempts to evacuate her, declaring it was a good time to catch up on her embroidery. On April 16, 1952, the Red River crested at around 35 feet; a USGS paper declared it the highest crest since 1897. Her address, 106 1st Avenue South, no longer exists; Urban Renewal wisely razed the neighborhood south of Main and east of 4th street, which was regularly subject to inundation even in light flood years.

Red River Flood, 1969.

Monday, March 30th, 2009

Click for full image


In April, 1969, the Red River of the North overflowed its banks, reaching 37.3 feet on the 15th, and expected to crest at 38 feet a few days later. This aerial photo appeared on the front page of the Fargo Forum on the 15th, showing the dike’s position in relation to saving city hall, the Civic Center, and the year-old library. Today, the dike runs down 2nd street, atop the river bank, but in 1969, they let the swollen river cover the big parking lot, and ran the dike along 3rd street, just outside City Hall’s front doors; the Town House hotel, at the far right in the big picture, looks on the verge of flooding, but safe enough.

Red River Flood, 1897.

Thursday, March 26th, 2009


Click for full image
Today, Fargo-Moorhead is readying itself for an unbelievable 40ft+ crest of the Red River on Friday, and are preparing, around the clock, by filling sandbags and building dikes. Twelve years ago we had another huge flood which filled some neighborhoods with water, a hundred year flood so to speak. In fact, a hundred years before that hundred-year flood was the 1897 flood, seen above: floods of this type weren’t completely unusual — urban renewal cleared out the most flood-prone neighborhoods during the 1970s on both sides of the river, which had been routinely inundated whenever the river got high. The area of Moorhead in the photo above, however, is still on high ground and is residential: the building on the left seems to still exist, while the one on the right does not. The USGS believes the 1897 flood hit the 40-foot mark as well.

Pfister Barber Shop Party, 1957.

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009


Click for full image

Ann Stardy and Tom Brown, drinking and smoking in the Pfister Hotel barber shop, from a 35mm color slide, 1957.

Father and Daughters, 1890s.

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009


Click for full image
Father and two daughters, 1890s.

Steam-Powered Space-Ships, 1918.

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

Click for full image

If these amazing craft could actually reach the impressive speed of two miles per minute (120mph), how long would it take to reach the sun? Over fifty years, or so says the margin notes in the original. I have never seen such a wonderful portmanteau of craft-shapes compiled into a single speculative spacecraft: the body is like that of a steamship, front-weighted like an airplane, with airelons and control surfaces both fore (like the Wright flyer) and aft (like most airplanes) — and not only did the artist theorize a single spacefaring airship, he or she put together several designs of varying shape, including a space-faring zeppelin in the distance. It also appears that the “wing-like” surfaces were not functional, as you’d expect for a spacecraft: if you look closely, there are observation decks and tiny people at the edges. My use of the word “Steam-powered” is purely an assumption based on the time period; the features that look like smokestacks are supports for the wings; I cannot see any outward evidence of the ship’s power source. Based on calculations of time-periods, this was published around 1918 or 1919, so I assume the painting was done shortly before. (Want wallpaper of this image? here’s normal and widescreen.) From Our Wonder World.

The Beautiful Land of Sound, 1900s.

Friday, March 20th, 2009


Click for full image

An illustration of “The Beautiful Land of Sound”, from the Children’s Encyclopedia, 1900s. The Encyclopedia used a theme of fairies and goblins in its music education sections.

Dakota City, North Dakota, 1890s.

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009


Click for full image

Greetings from scenic Dakota City, North Dakota! It took a little research to figure out what the cartographer was going off of, but the issue may be the result of lazy mapmaking. The full-sized map comes from the Harmsworth Self-Educator, a British encyclopedia from the 1910s. On closer examination, it’s odd to see a river called the “Yenne” running curling around the eastern half of the state — that is actually the “Sheyenne River”, which had at some point lost the first part of its name. The mapmaker who produced the map during the 1890s was copying off a map about 40 years older. “Dakota City” was a small settlement, just north of the Sheyenne/Red River confluence about ten miles north of Fargo, north of Harwood’s current townsite, established in the 1850s. According to Origins of North Dakota Place Names by Mary Ann Barnes Williams, “In 1895, one log cabin stood at the crossing of the Red River, just opposite LaFayette, Minn., on the Dakota side…known as Dakota City.” That one lone log cabin was occupied in the 1860s by “Monsieur Marchaud, a French Canadian, his Chippewa wife and twelve children,” according to Seat of the Empire by Charles Coffin. Dakota City, its neighbor Lafayette, and numerous other small townsites never succeeded in reaching actual town status, disappearing well before this map was published.

Cold War Wind Patterns, 1963.

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009


Click for full image

What does this map show? It relies on the wind patterns of an average spring day, in that particular decade. That decade was the 1960s, and about the biggest worry to be carried on those spring winds: fallout. This map projects fallout, if an “enemy” were to drop 3,000 megatons on various military, industrial, and civilian targets at the same time, both ground detonations and air bursts. From the Saturday Evening Post, 23 March 1963.

Broadway and NP, 1970s.

Thursday, March 12th, 2009


Click for full image

The corner of Broadway and NP Avenue, looking north, in downtown Fargo. Early 1970s.