From the Echo Press archives, 1958: Train derails at Nelson, sending 48 cars off the track and sparking fire

This week in history in Douglas County.

Picture of Rachel Barduson
Rachel Barduson

This Week in 1958 – 65 years ago: Forty-eight boxcars were derailed in the county’s biggest railroad accident in recent years at Nelson. The accident happened at 11:15 p.m. when a 108-car freight, traveling between Fargo and St. Cloud, was the victim. The engine and the next 27 cars stayed on the track and proceeded to St. Cloud. The next 48 cars went off the rails and smashed into each other. The last 33 cars remained upright. The tracks were ripped from the roadbed and twisted like wire. No-one was injured in the accident. One car, carrying potatoes, burst into flames after derailment and Alexandria firemen were summoned to the scene to prevent the fire from spreading.

1973, 50 years ago: Fragments of moon rock brought back by the Apollo 11 moon crew, and a Minnesota flag which has been to the moon and back, will be on display at the Alexandria Armory. The public viewing is sponsored by Governor Anderson and Adjutant General Chester J. Moeglein, and the local National Guard unit. A joint statement said, “These black chips are part of the moon’s surface picked up by Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin from the southern part of the Sea of Tranquility. The small pieces of fragments are crystalline rock, breccia and glass, which were sieved from the dusty lunar surface.”

1998, 25 years ago: The Douglas County Board of Commissioners unanimously supported a resolution from the state sheriff’s association that would change the routing of cellular 911 calls. Instead of sending these calls to the district state patrol office in Detroit Lakes, all would go directly to local law enforcement. So, in Douglas County, they would go to Alexandria. At this time, when you call 911 from a cellular phone, your call goes automatically to Detroit Lakes, even if you are standing just outside the law enforcement center in Alexandria. A state patrol dispatcher determines which agency should respond, and then forwards your message back to Alexandria. With the sheriff’s association proposal, this extra step would be eliminated.

2013, 10 years ago: Pioneer Public Television is premiering new episodes of “Postcards with Historic Ballrooms” featuring Lakeside Ballroom in Glenwood. The episode will tell stories of those who attended Fiesta Ballroom in Montevideo before it burned down in the 1960s. Then it will tell the history surrounding Lakeside Ballroom and the Lakeside Dance Club. The dance club is celebrating its 13th anniversary this year.

Just for fun, 1973 – 50 years ago: Iversen Shoes invites you to enter their annual “Air Step Award Contest.” You are invited to submit your suggestion on “How to be a Good Wife and Homemaker” and win a prize. First prize is a wardrobe of three pair of Air Step shoes. Second prize is two pairs and third prize is one pair. Judges are Natalie Johnson, Liz Brezina and Mayme Engelbrecht. Drop in to Iversen Shoes and try on a pair of Air Step shoes, including the Majorca shoe for only $21.99, available in red, black, blue and white patent. Matching handbags also available.


Sports Trivia, 1973 – 50 years ago: Remember all the past problems with the scoreboard at Jefferson? Officials at Hallenbeck Hall in St. Cloud had their problems with the scoreboard at the Region 6 finals. During the last three minutes of the consolation game, the scoreboard went on the fritz. A fire extinguisher was called for and seven minutes later everything was under control. However, the rest of the game was resumed with a portable clock at the scoring table. All of the championship game was played without the regular scoreboard, with a couple of college students flipping score cards so fans would know the score, and the announcer letting the fans know how much time was remaining. Mark Olberding, a junior, paced Melrose to its fourth straight Region 6 title with 31 points.

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

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