If you look though old issues of the Blaine newspaper, around 1972, you’ll find that grass and peat fires kept the fire department hopping. Starting in May and continuing through the summer, almost every week’s issue lists at least one or two incidents. Oftentimes children were suspected of being the instigators. Before the northern suburbs filled in, there were lots of open spaces and low-lying bogs that provided tinder for these nuisance conflagrations. One such fire-prone area was a peaty expanse on the east side of University Avenue north of 109th Avenue. Today it’s the site of Park of the Four Seasons mobile home community, but prior to 1973 when Four Seasons opened, it was a good place for fires to start.
One day back in the ‘70s, when we were new to Blaine, my neighbor told me he was going downtown.
Every few years, a history buff writes some words for this newspaper about the old Anoka County town of Itasca (sometimes spelled Itaska). It was located on the Anoka side of the Mississippi River near the Sherburne County line. For a few years, in the middle of the nineteenth century, it looked like it might amount to something.
At the west edge of Columbus, near where Lake Drive crosses I-35, there’s a paved road that runs past the new Running Aces harness racing track and connects with the freeway access road next to Gander Mountain.
If you stand on the west bank of the Rum River near the canoe landing behind the county fairgrounds, you can look across the river to lightly wooded slopes leading up to the former Anoka State Hospital and the bike path that runs behind it.
One day in the late 1970’s, while I was out for a run along Bunker Lake Boulevard west of Jefferson Street, I saw an unexpected thing.
If you turn north from Main Street just west of Bunker Hills Park, at the stoplight between the Animal Humane Society and the new railroad overpass, you’ll find yourself in a quiet residential neighborhood.