Friday, October 24, 2014 19 miles Macalester-Groveland, West End, Downtown, West Side
The homeowners are not the victims of a Halloween prank. Rather, the house in the 1200 block of Jefferson is stripped to its skivvies in preparation for a rebuild that likely involves an expansion.
Halloween is but a week away and there were some creative decorations displayed on today’s jaunt. The house at 1236 Jefferson is a great example.
Count Dracula, jack o’ lanterns, pumpkins and ghouls; this house has something for everyone on Halloween.
Next stop for Halloween fun, 487 Michigan Street in the West End.
Only the bravest children venture here when darkness settles in.
Next door, at 879 Michigan, it’s a G-rated display.
What’s an “oob”?
No, this isn’t for Halloween. This impeccably dressed gentleman sits in one of the C.S.P.S. Hall windows at 381-383 Michigan Street, at West 7th.)
The Česko-SlovanskýPodporujícíSpole, C.S.P.S. Hall for short (and because few can pronounce the proper name), opened at 381-383 Michigan Street in 1887 as a Czech and Slovak social, cultural, educational and gymnastic organization. Businesses have been on the first floor since the C.S.P.S. Hall opened. Picha’s Saloon, an early tenant, served drinks from 1889 until about 1919.
C.S.P.S. Hall had a main floor bakery in 1976. Courtesy Minnesota Historical Society.
A meat market moved in next, then grocery stores, bakeries, an Irish dance group, Lao Family Services in the ‘80s and a medical manufacturer. Since 2000, the space has been the German restaurant Glockenspiel. The building earned National Register of Historic Places status in 1977.
Women sewing at Lao Family Community Center in C.S.P.S. Hall,1983. Courtesy Minnesota Historical Society.
The sign for the hall hangs along West 7th Street.
The Honorary Consulate of the Czech Republic, Robert E. Vanasek, has an office at C.S.P.S. Hall.
C.S.P.S. Hall is still serving the Czech and Slovak communities through festivals, language, dance and gymnastics classes and occasional public events. There is a great deal more to the history of the C.S.P.S. Hall on the Sokol Minnesota website at http://sokolmn.org/history/csps.htm
From C.S.P.S. Hall I rode into Downtown via West 7th, then turned south on Kellogg Boulevard, pausing for a look at the Mississippi River. This narrow, triangular strip of land is Kellogg Mall Park and affords one of the best views of the Mississippi River anywhere in Saint Paul. (It’s a prime spot to catch fireworks on the Fourth of July.)
Looking south, Shepard Road is in the foreground. Also visible is Raspberry Island, the Robert Street Bridge and an apartment building or condominium complex.
Turning to the north, the view is Cedar Street toward the Capitol grounds. Buildings on the left side of Cedar include the Crowne Plaza Hotel banquet room and behind it, the Degree of Honor building. A parking ramp and the Minnesota Building are on the right side of Cedar. The fountain in front, drained in preparation for the cold weather, is one of a pair in Kellogg Mall Park.
A couple other sights of note in the park; First, a bas relief of the notorious Pig’s Eye Perrault is on one of the railing supports. I mention the second, a photo-wrapped traffic signal box, because the image on each side is effectively the view from that spot.
The signal box with the view south (left) and east along Kellogg (right.)
The image on the traffic signal box.
The scene as I shot it. Notice the old parking meters on the photo on the traffic signal box.
Earlier in 2014 I ventured to the Downtown Saint Paul Airport and explored Bayfield Avenue on the eastern edge of Holman Field. Click here to read the July 19, 2014 ride. Today I’ve returned to go inside the airport terminal and then survey the facilities bordering the western side of the airport.
A single engine prop plane in its final approach to Holman Field. The fence in the foreground keeps unwanted people and things off runways.
A corporate jet taxis to its take off point. Gander Mountain, 3M, UnitedHealth Group and Conagra Foods are among the corporations that have jets at Holman Field. A couple of charter airlines fly in and out of Saint Paul, too.
The exterior of the terminal building at Holman Field. I took this picture on my first visit earlier this year.
The interior of the terminal, which was closed on my first visit, is an odd mingling of original construction and updates completed over seven decades. To my admittedly untrained eye, most of the remodeling is an insult to this historic structure.
The terrazzo map of North America is the interior showpiece of the Saint Paul Downtown Airport terminal building.
Saint Paul’s vital statistics on the terrazzo map.
“St. Paul” is in larger type than “Minneapolis”, as it should be.
Visitors can even grab a rental car at Holman Field.
The small waiting area features a collection of unmatched furniture.
The upstairs meeting area of the terminal, I imagine, lost most of its charm during remodeling.
This stairway between the main floor and offices on the second floor retains its original style.
Back outside I rode south along the dully named Airport Road. Technically a private thoroughfare, but open to the public, it’s the first time I’d ridden or driven here.
The Minnesota Army National Guard Aviation building is the closest to the terminal on the south road.
The 834th Aviation Support Battalion (ASB), according to the Minnesota National Guard website, provides logistics, transportation, medical, maintenance and communications support for the 34th Combat Aviation Brigade. The 834th ASB supports missions around Minnesota, the Midwest and in Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom.(1)
A National Guard fuel truck and storage lockers sit on the tarmac.
St. Paul Flight Center is a concierge service for people and aircraft that fly in and out of the Downtown Airport. (2)
Airport Road dead-ends at Eaton Street while Eaton runs west off airport property and east and then south to other hangars and airport tenants.
Airport Road meets Eaton Street.
A sign shows of some of the tenants in the southern part of the airport. Intriguingly, many tenants are not listed on this register and buildings and hangers lack any identification other than the address.
I took the picture of 410 Airport Road from Eaton Street. It’s one of many unmarked hangers at the airport.
The humble State Patrol headquarters at Holman Field.
There’s been a Minnesota State Patrol Flight Section at Holman Field since 1957. Now, the State Patrol has nine state trooper pilots and three Bell helicopters equipped with thermal imagers and bright spot lights, although some of the equipment and pilots fly out of Brainerd. Four Cessna 182 airplanes and one Beechcraft Queen Air help with traffic enforcement and shuttling of prisoners.
This unmarked office and hanger building is reported to belong to UnitedHealth Care.
Three more hangars marked only with numbers.
This fence marks the end of the public area of the airport. Eaton Street continues south for at least a quarter of a mile. My speculation is that the gate and fence were added to improve security in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks.
One of two beacons that were built to signal aircraft on the way into Holman Field.
Looking west from Eaton Street at the wilderness outside of airport property.
The Saint Paul Downtown Airport is owned and operated by MAC, the Metropolitan Airports Commission (as are Twin Cities International and the so-called ‘feeder airports’ around Saint Paul-Minneapolis.) As you’d figure, it takes a whole lot of heavy equipment to keep the airport running properly, and much of it is kept in three buildings.
Three Metropolitan Airports Commission maintenance buildings are on the southeast side of Holman Field.
MAC vehicles used at Holman Field are repaired here.
The 63 degree day isn’t fooling anyone. A snow plow destined to clear three runways and at least twice that many taxiways seems to be watching for the weather to turn.
That’s a creative abbreviation for Frontage.
Back on Eaton I exited the airport and almost immediately came to the East Lafayette Frontage Road and the southern part of the Riverview Business Center. A good portion of the West Side Flats are part of Riverview, which opened in 1962.(3)
Riverview is one of about 20 Port Authority projects around Saint Paul.
The Port Authority returns underdeveloped land, often times polluted by long-gone manufacturers, to a condition where it can be leased or sold for redevelopment.
Legacy Funeral Home at 255 Eaton Street primarily serves the Hmong community. The two chapels are in a building that was once an bingo parlor.
This is one of Legacy’s two chapels in the building.
Saint Paul has been a railroad town for more than 120 years. Although the names have changed, several railroads have major facilities in town, including switching yards, offices and maintenance shops. Union Pacific is a relative newcomer to our city, officially arriving with the 1995 purchase of the Chicago & North Western Railroad.
Union Pacific Railroad maintenance trucks are kept at this shop.
Speaking of maintenance, the ubiquitous white and blue mail trucks need work now and then and here’s the one spot in the east metro where it is done.
The Riverview Vehicle Maintenance Facility at 292 Eva Street.
Carl Loberg lowers a mail vehicle he hauled in on his tow truck.
Carl Loberg, a Level 9 Lead Technician, works second shift at Riverview Vehicle Maintenance Facility (VMF.) Carl has worked for the postal service for more than two years after many years as a mechanic, mostly at Twin Cities-area car delaers. Carl much prefers working for the postal service. “They work real well with you here to teach you how to do it so you can repair practically anything. They always say a safe and reliable vehicle is what they want.”
LLVs (Long-Life Vehicles) sit on four of the 10 lifts at the Riverview Vehicle Maintenance Facility.
Carl added, “In the dealerships you’re tracked on how much you do and you’re on a commission basis so the more work you do the more you get paid. Here it’s fix it right, get it right.”
Carl readies an LLV for the short drive into a service bay for repair.
Carl told me the Riverview VMF keeps about 6,000 US Postal Service vehicles running. A good deal of the work the mechanics do is a twice-yearly “once over”, which includes a full inspection, oil change, brakes, tires and tune up.
The Riverview VMH repairs primarily three varieties of postal vehicles. The most common, the white mail delivery vehicle we’ve seen seemingly forever, is known as the ‘Long-Life Vehicle,’ or LLV. “They’re from ’87 to ’94 or ’95; with 205s (cubic inch engine) in them,” said Carl. “What’s nice about ‘em is they’re very repairable compared to the newer cars, which are a lot more involved, a lot more technical. For these, they get used so much they’re very easy to maintain and economical to maintain.”
The other vehicles frequently serviced by Carl and the other mechanics are 2002 Ford Explorers called FFVs, (Flex Fuel Vehicles), and 2002 Dodge Caravans.
An LLV on the lift at the VMF.
The VMF isn’t the only place mechanics repair postal service vehicles. There are times mechanics take road trips. “If they have an issue with a taillight out, little things, we’ll go out there, we’ll take a truck full of parts and we’ll stop at these stations (post offices).”
There is enough repair work to keep three shifts of mechanics busy. Occasionally, however, they squeeze in a little fun. Carl told me about the time another mechanic replaced an engine in a USPS vehicle. “…he was all proud he got it running. I came around the back side of the truck and I started tapping on the frame with a big old hammer. So he kinda shuffled around a little bit and walked toward the key to turn it off because it was knocking real bad. I stopped knocking and he walked back to the front and he could relax a little bit and I started hammering on it again.” After tapping several more times Carl admitted to the prank and he and the other mechanics had a good laugh.
Another way Carl occasionally lightens things up is by playing tunes with his tools. “I’ll play my wrenches because if you lay ‘em out, if you tap on ‘em they’ve got different tones. So I can play a few different songs; “Mary Had a Little Lamb”, “Jingle Bells”, stuff like that.”
I left the Riverview VMF with an appreciation of the volume of work postal service mechanics do as well as Carl’s creativity, both with practical jokes and musical performance.
The last of the old Waterous Company’s Saint Paul plant goes almost unnoticed on a six square block chunk of land on the West End Flats. The property is bounded on the north by Fillmore Avenue, Livingston Street to the east, Plato Boulevard on the south and to the west by railroad tracks.
This decaying building is in a slow, steady but ultimately unwinnable struggle against trespassers, time and the incessant assault of Minnesota’s seasons. Visible mainly thanks to fall’s onset and the die back of foliage, the last of the Waterous Company’s Saint Paul factory shares a piece of land about six square blocks with nothing but weeds, trees and dirt. Waterous shuttered this building and the rest of the plant in 1974 after completing construction of a modern plant several miles away in South St. Paul.
The Waterous Company hasn’t operated in this building since 1974. But the company, in South St. Paul, is doing well, still manufacturing fire hydrants.
To my surprise, the Waterous Company’s name only coincidentally relates to fire hydrants, its best known product. The company, in Winnipeg, Manitoba at the time, had been called P.C. Van Brocklin Foundry until 1877, when Charles Waterous renamed it Waterous Engine Works Company. Twin sons Fred and Frank Waterous moved the company to South St. Paul where it manufactured steam engines and hydrants for fighting fires. (3)
The December 1908 edition of Gas Review magazine featured an advertisement for a Waterous gasoline powered fire engine. Courtesy http://www.VintageMachinery.org and Tractor & Gas Engine Review.
A disastrous blaze in 1894 burned the Waterous factory in South St. Paul to the ground. Insurance helped the company rebuild-in Saint Paul at 80 Fillmore Avenue.
The Waterous Company’s plant on Fillmore Avenue circa 1960. Courtesy Minnesota Historical Society.
Waterous fabricated hydrants and other fire suppression equipment at the Fillmore Avenue plant until 1974, when it moved back to South St. Paul.
A loading dock door shows signs of graffiti, while vegetation encroaches on the old Waterous building.
A close look at the building’s only identifier.
The changing leaves on a couple of nearby bushes added vivid dashes of red, orange and yellow around the former Waterous plant.
Once the site of many industrial and storage facilities, some manufacturing remains on the West Side Flats. This 3M plant operates at 42 West Water Street. (4)
3M has a pharmaceutical pilot plant on Water Street, a couple blocks south of the former Waterous facility.
Nearby the maple trees burst with yellow and orange.
The five story Farwell, Ozmun, Kirk & Company Warehouse 2 opened in 1911 at 106 West Water Street. Just four years later, the hardware manufacturer/wholesaler added a sixth floor to the building. The breadth of F.O.K. inventory was extensive-from everyday objects like tools and paint to the unusual-oil burning lamps, harnesses and poultry supplies.
Railroad tracks that used to bring the various products to and from the F.O.K. building are nearly hidden after going unused for decades.
F.O.K. Warehouse 2 is now called ACVR Warehouse and counts among its tenants artists, musicians, a wine importer/distributor and other small businesses. OK Hardware Stores, while not to my knowledge around the Twin Cities, grew out of F.O.K.
The signpost at the corner of Water Street and Plato Boulevard.
Nearby is a small public charter school called River’s Edge Academy, a high school with about 100 students. The outdoors-focused River’s Edge Academy partners with organizations including Audubon Center of the North Woods, National Park Service, Dodge Nature Center and Urban Boat Builders.
Less than two blocks east of River’s Edge is the Plato Building, notable (infamous perhaps) because Ramsey County’s Property Records and Revenue Department and several other county divisions office here.
The sun sets about 6:30 at the end of October and so at 6:10, the time had come to depart for home. I had to ride up a good sized hill no matter which route I chose so I opted for the Wabasha Avenue bridge to catch sundown. I wasn’t disappointed.
The fading sunlight lends an orange tint to the Mississippi River and the Minnesota Centennial Showboat, left. The Smith Avenue High Bridge is in the middle of the picture.
High tension power lines and towers appear to stand among waves of fire.
The colorful spectacle continued beyond both sunset and the Wabasha Avenue Bridge.
The railroad tracks immediately north of Grace Street at Oneida Street reflect the brilliant orange, yellow and purple cast by the sky.
The spectacular sunset and aftermath were the perfect end of a remarkable and unexpected late October day on the bike.
To see the route of this ride, click here: https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/619260366