anoka county history

Some years ago, we had a coupon book that offered, among other things, two meals for the price of one at the Ramblers Inn. I’d never heard of the place, and, according to the map, it appeared to be in a neighborhood where you wouldn’t expect to find businesses. In fact, I hadn’t known there was a neighborhood there at all, off Lexington Avenue, north of the Carlos Avery turnoff, nestled against the south shore of Coon Lake. Every time I’d been on Coon Lake, I’d gone in on the north side, at the public access off of Highway 22.

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In May of 1914, a new set of advertisements appeared in the Union. Readers were advised to “begin laying plans” for a “festival of joy.” A week of “first grade educational entertainment” was on its way. These “seven glorious days of clean enjoyment” would include orchestra, opera singers, alpine yodelers, a Shakespeare play, a scientific demonstration, and daily lectures on such topic as the Panama Canal, the story of New Zealand, love and brotherhood, and the future of America.

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In 1953, television, a recent addition to many homes, offered a handful of channels in black and white and displayed a test pattern at night. Disneyland was just beginning to take shape in Uncle Walt’s imagination. Most families had only one car, and many of them piled in the kids for long, desinationless weekend drives. If they’d driven Highway 10, 2 or 3 miles west of Anoka, they might have come upon a venue that in many ways embodied the decade. Santa Claus Town, the summer home of the jolly old elf, opened for visitors in June of that year.

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I got a call the other day from a friend in St. Louis. She had seen television reports about the awful flooding in Minnesota and was concerned about us. I assured her we were fine, but I couldn’t explain why. Why is most of Anoka County dry only a few hours after a heavy rain?

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Occasionally some new idea captures the fancy of the general public to such a degree that its popularity exceeds all reasonable expectations. Such was the case with rock gardens in the 1930s. The July 15, 1931 Anoka Union newspaper explains, “Never in the history of Anoka have people been so interested in rock gardens and flowers of all kinds as this summer of 1931.”

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