From the Echo Press archives, 1996: Runestone Museum takes down a wobbly Big Ole

This week in history in Douglas County.

This Week in 1971 – 50 years ago McCarthy’s Drive-In wishes to take this opportunity to thank all of the people of Alexandria and also the people from other areas who have patronized us for the past eight years. We are starting our NINTH year in this fine city and promise to give you the same fast service and good food that we have been serving since 1963. Only U.S. Government Inspected Meat at McCarthy’s on South Broadway in Alexandria.

1981 – 40 years ago: Ron’s Warehouse Sales is celebrating its 13th anniversary with a grand opening celebration in a new building at a new location – two blocks east of the old store on Hwy 27 East. Ron’s handles new, close-out, damaged and discontinued merchandise. The new store is double the size of the original building.

1971, 50 years ago: Nearly 200 Bellanca dealers came to town, and most, as you can guess, came by plane. Highlight of the weekend as far as the public was concerned, was the dizzying aerobatic demonstration by Bobby Bishop. During the weekend meeting the airport looked like a vast used airplane lot, glistening with literally millions of dollars worth of aircraft.

A $32,000 loan to construct rental housing for rural senior citizens and low income families has allowed the start of a duplex building in Miltona. The loan was made to Miltona Homes, Inc., a local corporation made up of Miltona businessmen and area farmers, by the Farmers Home Administration. The new home is located just across the street from the Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church on the south side of Miltona. The loan secured to build the home is to be paid over a 50-year period.

1996, 25 years ago: Big Ole the Viking was taken down and will be stored in the agricultural-display building of the Runestone Museum until enough funds can be raised for a structural diagnosis and repairs. In recent months the museum staff noticed that the stalwart sentinel was beginning to wobble at the slightest breeze. If all goes as planned, the statue will be up again in the spring. Fun fact: In August, 1980, Big Ole was moved about one block north just before stoplights were installed at Broadway and 3rd.


2011, 10 years ago: Imagine an igloo, 50 feet by 50 feet, that’s 77 stories high. That’s how much snow the Alexandria Street Department hauled away last winter, according to Public Works Coordinator Bryan Bjorngaard.

Just For Fun, 1971 – 50 years ago: Free snowmobile drawing — register from now until Dec. 22 at Bob’s Clothes Shop in Alexandria for a free 1972 SNO-JET electric start. Alexandria Boat Works – two full-time mechanics on duty six days a week. Three miles east of Alexandria on Highway 27.

1996 – 25 years ago: Big Ole made his debut in 1965 after being created by Gordon Displays of Minneapolis. The steel-reinforced fiberglass giant, which weighs about four tons, cost $15,000. Shortly after he was made, Big Ole stood guard over the Kensington Runestone at the New York World’s Fair in the Minnesota Pavillion.

Sports Trivia, 1971 – 50 years ago: Fred, Bernie, Tom and Ted Steidl all bagged a moose on a jaunt into the wilds of Canada. The area they hunted was at Earl Falls, Canada, a 500 mile jaunt by vehicle and then an additional 75 miles into the brush by water on the English River system. A big game Canadian license is $125 this year and an import fee of $15 if a moose is obtained. The Steidls dressed out their animals in six pieces each and had a big break when Danny Reis of Carlos, in an adjoining area, flew out their meat with his airplane. The group of Carlos hunters, of which Reis was a member, had good luck too.

Rachel Barduson of Alexandria is a regular contributing columnist to the Echo Press Opinion page.

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