My 2019 Great Lakes Road Trip Part 9A

4 Dec

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Day 9 – Wednesday July 31

My plan was to stay in Minneapolis two days to see the many museums in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.  So to start today, I headed back southeast about 15 miles on I-694/I-35W, in morning traffic, to visit the Minnesota Transportation Museum located in St. Paul, MN.  This is a fabulous museum that is housed in a portion of the restored 1907 Jackson Street Roundhouse maintenance and repair facility.   The museum is beautifully laid out to represent the original Great Northern Railroad steam engine roundhouse, where various types of restored vintage train cars are displayed for visitors to walk thru.  Many other railroad artifacts and memorabilia fill the museum.  Additional restored unique and vintage rolling stock are displayed outside the museum building.  

Now I made my way south, to visit the Commemorative Air Force-Minnesota Wing, located adjacent to the Fleming Field Airport, just a few miles south of downtown St. Paul.  This was a very active hanger, filled with 5 or 6 aircraft of various types, all being worked on by at least two or three people.  Their largest plane was a B-25J named “Miss Mitchell.”  Everyone in the hanger, while busy, was very friendly, and informed me that all of the airplanes being worked on there were in flying condition.  After that quick visit, Greta (my Garmin) and I tried to find the Science Museum of Minnesota and the New Brighton History Center, but to no avail.  We finally gave up and headed for the Historic Fort Snelling.

Next I traveled some 10 miles west, across the Mississippi River, to visit the Fort Snelling Veteran’s Memorial Chapel located in the Fort Snelling State Park.  Access to this State Park from the direction I was coming was a nightmare, and took me three tries to finally make it to the chapel.  This is a beautiful park and the 1927 Chapel is dedicated to the many U.S. veterans who have sacrificed their lives for our country.  The Chapel also honors Colonel Josiah Snelling, who served as the fort’s commandant from 1820 to 1824, and for whom the fort was named.

Now I headed a few miles north to visit the Minnesota ANG Museum located at the north end of the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport.  It turns out that the museum is on the National Guard base, and when Greta took me to a guard gate,  the guard said the museum was no longer open to the public without the proper background check pass.  Rats!  This is another case of a museum internet site not providing a person all the information needed for directions, hours, access requirements  and etc.

 I made a “U” turn and was heading for the intersection, when I spotted an unused driveway off to the side.  I pulled in to inter the address for Greta to take me to the next museum.  I couldn’t have been there more than 2 or 3 minutes, but when I looked up from concentrating on the address, there stood two Military Police outside my window.   They were dressed in their camos, wearing every accessory known to the Military Police.  With their hands on the butts of their weapons, they politely asked me what I was doing.

I explained that I was just using the unused driveway (outside the fenced area) to look up a museum address.  They informed me that I couldn’t park on “Military Property.”  I thanked them (for not shooting me) and got on my way, under their watchful eyes.  After this incident, I moved on north a few more miles, to visit the Twin City Model Railroad Museum located in the Bandana Square area of Saint Paul.  This museum began in1834 as the St. Paul Craftsman Club, and over the years, has grown to display a world-class model panorama of the Twin Cities railroads of the 1930s-1950s.  The museum also displays several different gage-size model railroad layouts and other railroad artifacts.

—–(This day’s activities will be continued next week)—–

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