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Yesterday in La Crosse

The president took a lap around the La Crosse County speedway, one year ago

A week before the 2020 presidential election, Donald Trump held a late afternoon campaign rally at the La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway in West Salem. Then-candidate Trump rode around the track in his limousine before the Oct. 27 speech, where he called challenger Joe Biden “soft” and “weak” and accused the Democrat of wanting to delay […]

Peshtigo goes up in flames, 150 years ago

You’ve heard of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871…but there was another large fire, in Wisconsin, on the same day, yesterday in La Crosse.    October 8th marks 150 years since devastating fires caused death and destruction in Chicago…and in the woods of northern Wisconsin, at Peshtigo.  Strong winds have been blamed for causing small […]

Dinner at the Tivoli, then a movie at the Rivoli…still possible, 51 years ago

In 1970, the Tivoli Restaurant off Highway 35 and the Rivoli Theater downtown were both busy places in La Crosse.  The Rivoli was celebrating 50 years in business in 1970.  As for the Tivoli Gardens, that’s not around any more.  It was on the George Street extension between La Crosse and Onalaska, about where you’d find […]

The future of the city might depend on building a parking ramp, 65 years ago

During the summer of 1956, a committee planning a ramp on Market Square met at the Hotel Stoddard, and was told that a lack of downtown parking was keeping customers away from city businesses.  The panel heard that shoppers from Black River Falls and Whitehall were going to Eau Claire instead of La Crosse, and […]

Making the roads safer in Minnesota, 18 years ago

In 2003, the Minnesota DOT had a public meeting in the La Crescent area to discuss long-range transportation plans. One project high on the local list was a plan to make the Dresbach interchange safer. Some deadly crashes had occurred over the years at the intersection of Highway 61 and I-90, near the bridge that […]

Holy Moses! Fighting over the 10 Commandments, 36 years ago

In the summer of 1985, Madison’s Freedom from Religion Foundation launched its first effort to have a 10 Commandments marker removed from La Crosse’s Cameron Park. It was the most prominent complaint anyone had made about the stone monument since it was installed in to honor volunteers who battled the 1965 flood. About 800 people […]

Pig races were a big attraction at Riverfest, 11 years ago

During La Crosse’s Riverfest in 2010, a Missouri company called Swifty’s Swine featured hogs racing around a track.  Race watchers could cheer for their favorite animals, with names like Brad Pig and Kevin Bacon.    The Puttin’ on the Lips competition at Riverfest was back, after a year off.  The lip-synch event based on a popular TV show […]

Opening day for the new City Hall, 51 years ago

Saturday, July 4th, 1970, La Crosse dedicated a 6-floor City Hall, which is still La Crosse’s main office building today.  It replaced the City Hall that stood for nearly 80 years at the corner of 6th and State, now part of the post office parking lot.  La Crosse’s oldest living mayor, 86-year-old Gus Boerner, cut […]

Two murder cases competing for headlines, 27 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 […]

Those pesky bugs returned for the summer…mosquitoes, 50 years ago

In June of 1971, the La Crosse city council was back to debating the best way to control mosquitoes.  Aldermen voted down a plan to resume the long-time practice of sending fog machines out on summer nights, and proposed an April referendum to let voters decide whether to continue fogging.  A Tribune editorial predicted that […]

“Fangs” for the memories? A rock band meets a fan, 8 years ago

In May of 2013, a couple eyebrows may have been raised when a man from Superior appeared in Judge Dale Pasell’s courtroom, and the judge was asked to order the man to stay away from rock bands called “American Fangs” and “Hollywood Undead.” Twenty-three-year-old Scott Mehtala said he thought he was in Superior, but he […]

We’re off to see the Wizard…at Oktoberfest?

In 1994, La Crosse’s Oktoberfest chose a button design featuring a wizard and a crystal ball, emphasizing the “magic” of the 34-year-old festival.  But one person from Coon Valley wondered where the heck a wizard fit into the fest.  He wrote to the Tribune, complaining that Oktoberfest wasn’t German enough, and said associating a wizard […]

Viva Las Vegas! We play “21” with the King

Elvis Presley was just 21 when he played his only concerts in La Crosse, two shows in one night at the old Mary E. Sawyer auditorium on May 14th, 1956. Twenty-one years later, in August of 1977, Presley died at his Graceland mansion in Memphis. Twenty-one years after the death of Elvis, the very first ‘Elvis Explosion’ […]

What do you call that big round thing with the tomato sauce on it? Pizza catches on in La Crosse, 60 years ago

Pizza Hut, Pizza Villa, Pizza Ranch, Pizza Doctors.  La Crosse has fallen in love—that’s “amore”—with the Italian delicacy of crust and sauce, cheese and toppings.  In 1961, the Racquet newspaper at La Crosse State devoted a large article to the popularity of pizza in the U.S.  Only about 500 pizza places existed in North America […]

Would the iceman cometh? Maybe not, 77 years ago

For many La Crosse families in May of 1944, during World War II, the kitchen icebox was still literally an ice-box.  Not an electric refrigerator.  To keep their food cold, they needed deliveries from the iceman, especially in the summer.  And the city was facing an ‘ice crisis.’  The war labor board had turned down […]

Time for the Safety Patrol trip to D.C., 47 years ago

In May of 1974, more than 1000 young Safety Patrol members from Wisconsin schools went on the patrol’s yearly bus trip to the Nation’s Capital, and Gettysburg.  There were 8 busloads of kids from La Crosse and Monroe Counties, and 3 buses from Prairie du Chien. During the ’74 visit, Prairie Safety Patrol supervisor Ruth Ryan presented […]

The old courthouse came tumbling down, 56 years ago

Late in April of 1965, the domed courthouse in downtown La Crosse was demolished, after being used for 61 years.  A new jail and courthouse had just been completed a block away, and the county had decided there was no reason to keep the old building around.  The courthouse on what is now called Belle […]

Amuck, amuck, amuck…La Crosse city leaders in 1939

During the race for mayor of La Crosse in 1939, candidate Donald Lyden used the word “amuck” to describe the city’s taxing practices.  He was one of six people running for mayor, and they all wanted lower taxes.  That April, incumbent mayor C.A. Boerner was voted out, in favor of former mayor Joseph Verchota, who […]