My Ears Are Buzzing

Cardboard Greetings, Uncategorized


Mailed from Minneapolis, Minnesota to Miss Florence Fitzgerald of Edinboro, Pennsylvania on July 27, 1907:

Arrived here at eleven o’clock last night. Will spend a few days here. Had a fine journey and were not as tired as we expected. Are spending the morning writing and this afternoon are going out with some friends we met on the train. Ha, ha, my ears are buzzing from the noise on the streets. Imagine you hear it.


Marlborough Hotel Fire – January 3, 1940

City in Ruins, Uncategorized

On the incredibly cold morning of January 3, 1940, just before dawn, a fire caused by a lit cigarette thrown down a garbage chute ravaged the Marlborough Apartment Hotel in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The cigarette has probably been smoldering for hours before finally catching fire and eventually blew out of the garbage chute, causing a heat explosion to tear through the building. The fire would be the deadliest in the city’s history with nineteen people and one puppy having lost their life on that cold January morning.

The Marlborough hotel was located on the southern edge of downtown Minneapolis at the corner of Third Avenue South and Fifteenth Street. The fairly small three-story building had opened in 1895 and had never had many problems. The hotel had been inspected many times had no violations on record.

At around 5:45 am, the hotel’s janitor, Otto Knaack was in the basement and heard an explosion. Knaack would tell local reporters of the events:

“When I opened the door, something tossed me back into the areaway in the basement. All the windows in the boiler room were blown out. I got up and went to get my wife and my baby out of our apartment. Then, I went up to the first floor to get my daughter and her roommate out of their rooms. By the time I roused them, the first floor was burning so fiercely we couldn’t get out. We had to jump to the ground 6 feet below. The whole place seemed to go up in flames suddenly.”

More than two-thirds of the city’s fire department arrived at the fire, but not as quickly as they would have liked. Hampered by temperatures near zero degree along with snow and ice, when the fire department arrived on the scene the hotel was already engulfed in flames.

The Monroe News-Star – January 4, 1940

As flames scorched the hotel, the guests numbering at least 115 began to panic. Some on the lower floors were able to escape through their windows, other managed to make it to a stairwell and make it to the frozen street below. However, 19 souls were not so lucky.

Witnesses would later say that heard screams emanating from the trapped people inside the hotel. They would also report that as they could see people on the second and third floors smashes windows with shoes, chairs, even their bare hands in a frantic effort to flee the flames. One man on the third floor was seen pushing his wife out of the window, right before he jumped to the pavement below. She died, he survived.

A local cab driver named Henry Kadlac happened to be passing by the Marlborough when the conflagration erupted. Instead of watching, mouth agape like many other, Kadlac sprung in to action. Kadlac stood outside windows and caught children that were thrown out of the upper floor windows by their parents. He would be hailed a hero.

Firemen struggled with the fire, the elements and with the terrified victims of the fire.The cold weather had cause many of the hoses to freeze, slowing the effort. The ladders for the upper floors quickly became iced over with the cold water being sprayed on the flames, making them dangerous. One fireman and a hysterical guest were seriously injured when the guest panicked and struggled to get free causing them both to slip and fall two floors from the frozen ladder.

Minneapolis Firefighters trying to move a Hennepin County Morgue truck after bei

Minneapolis Firefighters trying to move an iced-in County Morgue truck during the fire at the Marlborough Hotel. Courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society/Star Tribune

By the time the fire was officially put out, 19 people had died and over 50 had been injured. The guests that escaped without injury had to endure the weather with little to no preparation. Firemen would provide blankets to those lucky enough to almost freeze to death.

The hotel was completely destroyed and would never be rebuilt. The wooden interior along with highly flammable curtains caused the old hotel to ignite quickly and destroy everything in its path. Had the temperature outside been warmer the disaster inside could have been much worse.

Paul Bunyan Center – Brainerd, Minnesota

Cardboard America, Uncategorized

The Des Moines Register, April 24, 1966

Paul Bunyan Center - Brainerd, Minnesota


Located at Brainerd, Minn., Paul is 36 feet tall and weighs 5,000 lbs. He talks, tells stories and sings lumberjack style. His size 44 cap shades his 16″ moveable eyes. His broad shoulders and 18 ft. arms are protected by a size 73 shirt, which consists of 60 yards of wool-plaid material. Paul wears a size 80 boot boot with soles 5 feet long.

Paul Bunyan Center - Brainerd, Minnesota


Constructed in Kansas City, Mo. by Joe T. Bowen. Shipped in one piece by railroad flatcar over five railroads. Weight 3600 pounds, height 15 feet, length 23 feet, width between horn tips 10 feet.

The Paul Bunyan Center was located on Excelsior Lane in Brainerd, Minnesota, the Paul Bunyan capitol of the World.

Sunday Journal and Star – June 6, 1965

The park, originally known as Paul Bunyan Center, was founded in 1950 in Baxter, Minnesota, by Sherm Levis. It was built around the statue of Paul that Levis and Roy Kuemicheal had purchased the previous year. The park grew over time to include over 40 rides.

The center closed in 2003 due to the high cost of upkeep. Luckily, the items were saved and shipped to a  new area on the outskirts of Brainerd called This Old Farm/Paul Bunyan Land. Even the footprints of the Paul Statue were saved in the Kohl’s parking lot that now stands at the original site.


However, Paul Bunyan Land was re-opened, and according to their website:

In 2003 Paul Bunyan Amusement Center was relocated and moved 6 miles East of Brainerd (12 miles West of Garrison) on State Highway 18 due to technology, innovation and plain old industrial growth.  Similar the story of Paul & Babe v. Steam Locomotive & Chainsaw, it was time for Paul and his trusted sidekick to move on.   Kohls shopping center now resides in the original home of Paul Bunyan Amusement Center.   With a new name and much larger location (23 Acres), Paul Bunyan Land coupled with an existing attraction, This Old Farm Pioneer Village, to widen the appeal to all ages.   The Pioneer Village is the largest one man collection of antiques from the late 1800s to early 1900s in Minnesota.


Special thanks to Electrospark for the wonderful photos from a family’s trip to Paul Bunyan Center in 1956.


Giant Talking Paul Bunyan - 1956
Dedicated to Kids of Vacation Land - 1956

Sport, the Reversible Dog, 1956
Boat Ride - 1956

Paul's Squirrel Henry - 1956
The Shrine of Paul - 1956
Free Ride on Fire — 1953

Paul Bunyan Fire Dept - 1956

The Tyler Cyclone – August 21, 1918

City in Ruins


WHAT: Storm (Cyclone/Tornado)
WHEN: August 21, 1918 at approximately 9:20 p.m.
WHERE: Tyler, Minnesota
FATALITIES: 36 (with over 200 injured)


View of the Tyler, Minnesota business district

August 22, 1918 –Bemidji Daily Pioneer

Late in the evening on August 21, 1918, an F-4 tornado with reported winds of 225-250 miles per hour tore through the small Southeastern Minnesota town of Tyler.

The storm started at around 9:20 p.m. and lasted for approximately two hours. The swath was reportedly as wide as a city block. The business district and many homes were completely destroyed. It is still the 4th largest tornado in Minnesota history.

Debris from Tyler was found up to 23 miles away. The estimated cost of the damage was over $1 million.

Due to the remote location of Tyler, 16 miles from the South Dakota border and miles away from any sizable city, early news of the storm varied wildly.

The Bemidji Daily Pioneer the next day ran a bulletin from the United Press stating that one hundred people had perished in the headlines but quotes John Erickson, who had returned from Tyler at noon, who believed 25 dead and 50 to 60 injured.

The Bismarck Tribune from next day was the most accurate and succinct in the coverage of the storm

“The tornado tore through the heart of the town sparing only one building, a motion picture theater in which 200 persons were sheltered.

Persons engaged in rescue work said that 125 injured victims was a conservative estimate. Forty residences, the hospital, electric light plant and other buildings were destroyed. The storm raged until 11:25 p.m. and dozens of persons were pinioned under debris before being rescued. The tornado came from the east. Roofs were ripped off the houses and business buildings.”

Real photo postcard view of the clean-up efforts and the extensive damage done to Tyler. Image courtesy of


The next day, rescue and clean-up work began but with some problems. When word got on about the tornado thousands of curious citizens flocked to the area to see the destruction, hampering the relief efforts. Home guardsmen, the precursor to the National Guard, were called and they cordoned off the area to allow work to be done.

Funeral services for many of those killed by the storm were held on Friday, August 23rd. The home guardsmen escorted the funeral processions to the local cemetery.

A patriotic and slightly hard to believe story that appeared on page 3 of The Belvidere Daily Republican, August 28, 1918

The Tyler Relief Commission was formed a week after the disaster to assess the damage and provide Tyler with the necessary funds. Article courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society:

The commission, formed on August 31, 1918, consisted of, among others, former governor Samual R. Van Sant as chairman, E. G. Steger as secretary, Edward B. Young, and W. C. Briggs. This commission was also influential in raising funds for victims of the forest fires that occurred in northern Minnesota in that year. Consequently, T. O. F. Herzer took over the secretarial duties of the commission after Steger was sent to help out in northern Minnesota.

At its first meeting, the commission decided that Herzer would go to Tyler to ascertain the amount of damage that the tornado had inflicted upon the town. Herzer received help from the local relief committee, whose most active member was M. Glemmestad. After Herzer’s assessment, the commission determined that $190,960 of the $362,310 in damages needed to be raised from sources outside of Tyler and vicinity. The commission proceeded to ask the other counties and cities of Minnesota to raise donations for the tornado victims. Eventually the commission, with the help of the local relief committee of Tyler, raised $70,030.71. Included in the commission’s financial records are lists of towns, counties, individuals, and organizations, noting how much each donated to the Tyler relief fund.

The commission used claims submitted by people to determine where the money was to be distributed. The financial records contain lists of victims and how much money they received. Claims were sent in either by people who needed money due to damage done by the tornado or by people who had spent money helping the tornado victims. Damage done by the tornado, as seen in some of the claims issued, included broken dishes and windows, and loss on furniture and fixtures. Other claims were submitted by committee members for reimbursement for railroad trips taken to attend meetings in Tyler.

Relief for the victims of forest fires in northern Minnesota had siphoned off a great portion of the money that otherwise might have gone to Tyler. When the legislature and Governor realized this, they appointed a new commission in March, 1919, and appropriated $35,000 from state funds for the commission to distribute (Laws 1919 c62). (Laws 1919 c4 legalized all prior appropriations of public funds by local governments for Tyler tornado relief.) The second commission included many of the same members as the first, and thus the two groups worked jointly and filed their records together. The two commissions disbanded in August of 1921 after submitting a report to Governor J. A. O. Preus that outlined how and to whom their funds were distributed.

[Tyler Relief Commission (Minn.). Tyler Tornado Relief Records. Minnesota Historical Society.]

New Ulm Review, September 4, 1918

The state of Minnesota, local communities and the Red Cross worked hard to raise funds for Tyler.

The town was eventually rebuilt over the next few years but never fully thrived. The population of Tyler as of the 2010 Consensus was around 1,100 people, very close to that of Tyler before the cyclone.