Yesterday in La Crosse

A month-long birthday party for one area county, 50 years ago

In June of 1969, Crawford County marked its sesqui-centennial…150 years since it had been founded. In 1819, Crawford took up about one-third of the Wisconsin territory. Parades were held during June in almost all of the communities in the county, except De Soto and Eastman. The finale came June 29th in Prairie du Chien, with […]

Close to finishing the new bridge, 53 years ago

In 1966, the center span of the new I-90 bridge at Dresbach was installed. Planners expected the bridge to carry traffic by the fall of ’67. At the time, the Cass Street bridge was the only bridge to take cars between La Crosse County and southern Minnesota. Oktoberfest was in its 6th year, and had […]

‘Alice in Dairyland’ is crowned along the Mississippi, 66 years ago

In June of 1953, La Crosse hosted the yearly Alice in Dairyland festival, which was started in the 1940’s to help promote the state’s dairy industry. The major events of the celebration included a parade from the riverfront to Burns Park, in which the 16 ‘Alice’ candidates rode in open convertibles…and the actual selection ceremony, […]

Making changes to Lang Drive, 60 years ago

In May of 1959, the city of La Crosse was getting ready to complete the Lang Drive extension across the marsh, connecting George Street to West Avenue. City leaders proposed turning some busy streets into one-ways for the duration of the project…such as making State Street eastbound only, or King Street westbound. In the late […]

Teenagers were closer to getting the right to vote, 49 years ago

In June of 1970, Congress passed what would eventually become the 26th Amendment, lowering the national voting age to 18. The age change was included as part of an extension of the 1965 Voting Rights Act…and it would add about 10 million young people to voter rolls. All of Wisconsin’s Democrats in the House, and […]

Bowling goes high-tech, 56 years ago

Cartwright Center at La Crosse State was expanding its basement bowling lanes in ’63…also adding pinsetting machines which included what was called ‘the Sparemaker.’ After a bowler’s first ball, lights on the machine would show what pins were left standing, plus a lighted arrow pointing to the best place to aim the second ball. However, […]

Putting the brakes on a fire engine festival, 46 years ago

In May of 1973, Crawford County Sheriff Ray Childs called for an end to the ‘Ye Olde Fyre Engine Muster’ held in Prairie du Chien. The event had started just two years earlier as a fire engine race through the county. It became a Memorial Day festival in ’72, getting the attention of Charles Kuralt […]

A medical emergency for Cuban refugees, 39 years ago

In the summer of 1980, Fort McCoy had accepted many of the refugees from Cuba who had arrived in the U.S. in a massive boatlift. That June, at least three refugees were taken to Lutheran Hospital in La Crosse after drinking anti-freeze. They had consumed ethylene glycol, shutting down their kidneys and forcing them to […]

Two murder cases competed for air time, 25 years ago

In June of 1994, O.J. Simpson was arrested for a double murder after the infamous “white Bronco” chase in California. The Simpson case broke the same week that a triple-murder trial began in La Crosse for James Frydenlund, a Twin Cities man accused of killing his estranged wife, Suzzette, and her parents, Leroy and Celia […]

Celebrate the 3rd of July…an idea promoted 47 years ago

In 1972, the 4th of July fell on a Tuesday, and the La Crosse Tribune suggested that Independence Day become a Monday holiday, for the sake of convenience.  Just one year before, the U.S. had started celebrating Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Presidents’ Day on Mondays instead of on their traditional dates.  La Crosse was […]

‘We as a nation are in very serious trouble’…a campus warning, 51 years ago

Shortly before the 1968 presidential election, an editorial in the La Crosse State College ‘Racquet’ called candidates Richard Nixon, Hubert Humphrey, and George Wallace ‘little more than a very bad joke.’  It claimed the ‘people’s candidates’ were defeated by balloons, bullets, and billyclubs…apparent references to the Chicago Democratic convention, and the assassination of Bobby Kennedy. […]

The city council gets its second woman, and its first teenager, 44 years ago

In 1975, La Crosse voters elected a new mayor, Pat Zielke, and some new city council members. Helen Kelly became the second woman on the council, winning the seat being vacated by Zielke. Kelly was described as a housewife, but she later became an attorney. Kelly’s opponent complained that the winner got too much free […]

D-Day wasn’t the end of World War II, 75 years ago

The Allied invasion of France on the 6th of June, 1944, was a major turning point in the war, but back home, workers were still needed to help with the war effort. In La Crosse, a representative of Boeing was enlisting men and women to travel to Seattle to help build ‘America’s most needed big […]

A crowd of Senate candidates comes to town, 31 years ago

Wisconsin Senator William Proxmire was retiring in 1988, and candidates in both parties were hoping to get his job. The state Democratic party held its annual convention at the La Crosse Center that June, and the top contenders within the party included former Governor Tony Earl, Congressman Jim Moody, past Senate candidate Ed Garvey, and […]

The worst mass shooting at the time in America, in 1966

In August of 1966, gunman Charles Whitman climbed to the top of a tower at the University of Texas, and fired dozens of shots at the people below over a 2-hour period. By the time Austin, Texas police killed Whitman, he had killed 16 people and wounded 32 others. It was the deadliest mass shooting […]

The 3rd of June has been a day to remember

Bobbie Gentry’s song “Ode to Billie Joe,” set on the 3rd of June, was a hit in the 1960’s. On June 3rd of 1960, plans were moving ahead for a combined city-county building in La Crosse, expected to cost at least $3 million. A new courthouse was built in 1965, and a new City Hall […]

The Central principal was being punished, 29 years ago

In the spring of 1990, former La Crosse Central principal Robert Bulthaus was sentenced to a month in jail, and apologized for misusing student activity funds during the two years he was in charge of the high school. Bulthaus resigned in 1988, shortly after it was discovered that he had spent about $11,000 of money […]

One local GOP delegate was about to become a TV star, 55 years ago

In July of 1964, Bangor attorney John Bosshard was headed to San Francisco as a delegate to the Republican National Convention. A camera crew from public TV, known in those days as National Educational Television, was planning to follow Bosshard, his wife, and their four children as they traveled by car from Wisconsin to California. […]