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Yesterday in La Crosse

America enters the space race, 62 years ago

Brad Williams



In January of 1958, the U.S. launched a satellite successfully for the first time.  The Explorer was described in newspapers as a “chatterbox,” making noise as it collected data about space.  The launch came nearly four months after the Soviets sent Sputnik into orbit.   

La Crosse State was getting ready to build a student union next to Main Hall.  The board of regents received a low bid of just under $700,000 for the building which would eventually be called Cartwright Center.  Meanwhile, citizens in Sparta and Tomah were petitioning the Wisconsin building commission to have a state office building placed in their cities, instead of in La Crosse.  

A mother and daughter in Prairie du Chien had a scare in their home that January.  Four-year-old Margaret Mulrooney was looking for a doll’s shoe when she lifted a grill in the floor and fell into a cold air pipe which led to the basement furnace.  Margaret’s pregnant mother reached into the shaft to rescue her, and also fell in.  A telephone fell into the hole as well, and operators traced the call, sending the police chief to the house to save both Margaret and Mrs. Mulrooney.  And they also found the doll’s shoe.  In 1958, yesterday in La Crosse.