Saturday, September 13, 2008

Margin Notes: St. Paul and Minnesota

ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA - On occasion, I will issue sets of short observations called Margin Notes. Here's the first installation:

* The final signs of the Republican convention were being removed from the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul on Friday.

* I can understand the complaints about food around the convention. St. Paul is not overflowing with restaurants downtown.

* The funding credits for Minnesota Public Radio are voiced by the same person that does them for Marketplace, so I kept thinking that Marketplace was about to be aired on KNOW 91.1 throughout the day. This is not surprising, since Minnesota Public Radio and American Public Media (the producer of Marketplace) are housed in the same building in downtown St. Paul that I observed on Friday. And no, I didn't run into John Moe.

* Refreshing for a relatively sizable state, there is no obtrusive security at the Minnesota State Capitol. I apparently just missed seeing vice presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty walk in to the governor's office.

* I am not impressed with the Minnesota Department of Transportation. Highway 61 was being re-paved in the rain today south of Frontenac, and they were reducing traffic to one lane of alternating direction. I had to wait 18 minutes southbound and more than 20 minutes northbound to be flagged through--not a good thing when chasing a steam train. I counted 85 vehicles waiting to get through southbound when I finally got through northbound. A long service stop (since the train was early) at Winona saved me southbound, but northbound I didn't catch up to the train until it arrived at its home shop in Minneapolis.

* James J. Hill, the driving force behind the Great Northern Railway, was actually a Canadian, born in Guelph, Ontario, as I learned at his mansion on Summit Avenue in St. Paul, now run by the Minnesota Historical Association. So, in some sense I was re-tracing his steps by traveling here from Toronto.

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