CANNON FALLS, Minn. (WCCO) — Communities like Cannon Falls are filled with stories, and there’s a place here in town that keeps history alive.
Frank and Amelia stopped by the Cannon Falls Area Historical Museum on Thursday for a lesson on everything from a devastating fire to a pair of over-sized overalls. This limestone building started out as the Cannon Falls Fire Hall, established in 1888.
The date is significant. Just a year before, a raging fire destroyed a big part of downtown.
“It started in one of the wooden buildings and soon hopped to the next and to the next and then it crossed the street and caught the buildings across the street,” Zachary Wareham said.
Museum Director Zachary Wareham says several groups battled the flames. They saved the hotel, the school and the flour mill and rebuilt the rest.
“Within a year they already built most of the downtown district and they got really serious about their fire department and they built this building which is now the museum,” Wareham said.
President Barack Obama kicked off his campaign for a second term in Cannon Falls in 2011. He was the second U.S. President to visit here.
In 1928, President Calvin Coolidge, known as “Silent Cal,” came to Cannon Falls to dedicate a monument to local Civil War Hero Colonel William Colvill.
“President of few words, Silent Cal. And yet for a guy of few words he delivered a long speech here on the virtues of Minnesota first, and Col. Colvill and the bravery of those men for helping to save the union,” Wareham said.
Not all history is serious. Take the Overall Parties, held in the late 30s, which featured this giant pair of Lee dungarees. It was a way for local businessmen to honor local farmers.
“They would get together and pool their resources and buy a bunch of tobacco, corn cob pipes, cigars and cigarettes and give them away to all the farmers. And, they purchased a giant pair of overalls that would hang between the buildings downtown,” Wareham said.
Zachary says the businessmen had to wear overalls for the parties and not their Sunday finery. If they didn’t, they were fined a penny by the Justice of the Peace.