Architect J. McG Miller’s plan for a new Rochester fire station was to have three doors facing east for the heavy firefighting equipment to exit onto South Broadway, and a smaller door facing south for a “light” firetruck for smaller in-town fires.

The flaw with his plan was that on Jan. 7, 1930, after Rochester voters passed a $50,000 bond issue for the new fire station by almost a 14-1 margin, the only thing on the south side of the building site was the north bank of the Zumbro River.

By the summer of 1931, thanks to a project by the Minnesota Highway Department, the Zumbro River channel had been moved several hundred feet to the south, and the old channel filled in.

Sixth Street Southwest could then be extended one block east to South Broadway, and the city’s new “light” firetruck had its own door.

“Lens on History” is a weekly photo feature by Lee Hilgendorf, a volunteer at the History Center of Olmsted County.

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