Locally crafted beer! Locally crafted questions!

Columnist Steve Lange looks back at some lesser-known Rochester trivia.

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On Wednesday, April 26 — and the last Wednesday of every month — Rochester Magazine and the Post Bulletin will be teaming up for PB Trivia Night at Little Thistle!

Locally crafted beer! Locally crafted questions!

Most of the local questions will be Pulled From The Pages Of This Month’s Post Bulletin (which was our original title, but we then we realized it’s way too long).

A few Qs, though, will be pulled from classic stories from the PB/Roch Mag archives.

Like this one:


In 2010, two women allegedly stole four calves in Wabasha County. How did they make their getaway?
A. They wore cow costumes and led the cows to their farm
B. They loaded the calves into a 1997 Honda Civic
C. They rode the calves six miles to their home
D. They put the calves in stolen grocery carts from Hy-Vee

So, you can see what kind of fun this will be! (I’m including exclamation points here because I wrote the questions.)

The answer? B. The women, ages 20 and 22, reportedly tried to sell the calves at a local livestock association, but authorities were on the lookout. When police searched their vehicle, a 1997 Honda Civic, they found “two wire cutting tools, baling twine, and what appeared to be calf or cow hair.”

More interesting info!

During my research, I fell into a wormhole of lesser-known Rochester history. Here are five of my favorites.

We once had a zoo.

For 40 years, from the early 1900s through 1942, the Mayo Memorial Park Zoo drew visitors to Mayo Park — right behind the Civic Center — to visit bears, monkeys, elk, buffalo, lions, and more.

The zoo history, though, was failing by the 1930s.


“Sadly,” and this is from a PB article, “it became necessary to shoot and sell the bison to a city meat cutter in 1937.”

We once had a museum that featured “a collection of swallowed objects.”

From 1933-1988, the Mayo Medical Museum was centerpieced by the 6-foot-tall “Transparent Man,” one of the earliest examples of life-sized, see-through mannequins with various organs that lit up to accompany a recorded message. Busloads of schoolchildren giggled at the illumination of the Transparent Man’s underwear parts.

In its 55 years, the museum drew more than 5 million visitors (and averaged 100K visitors per year in the '80s).

Tourists also witnessed an iron lung (the size of a small submarine), amputated limbs preserved in large glass jars, a collection of swallowed objects (coins, needles, etc.), and diorama scenes depicting farm accidents (including “Man with Pitchfork in Foot”).

One of our best-ever athletes had one of the worst-ever nicknames.

Rochester’s Fred Fulton was one of the nation’s top heavyweight boxers in the 1910s. Between 1913 and 1918, Fulton he won 39 of his 51 fights (including 33 KOs). At six-foot-five, Fulton’s 84-inch reach was arguably the longest of his era. Boxing historian George Blair rated Fulton as “the fourth-best heavyweight in Minnesota history.”

The nickname for Fulton, who had a construction background? The “Rochester Plasterer.”


For one 10-day period, 1 in 5,000 of us were wearing “complex underwear."

A Mayo Clinic study, published in the journal Science in 2008, described 20 volunteers, all Rochester residents, who spent nearly 24 hours a day for 10 days wearing “complex underwear” (what Mayo described as “custom-made, data-logging undergarments”) that were equipped with “sensors that monitored energy expenditure 120 times a minute.”

We once had an Indoor Football team. But they didn’t fit in the stadium.

In May1998, the Indoor Professional Football League announced its plan to “field a team in Rochester immediately.” The Minnesota Rage.

Teams of $200-a-week former college players would catch kickoffs off the end zone netting and tackle ballcarriers into lightly padded sideline boards. The GM promised 3,000 fans a game, touted “high-scoring, constant action.” The sure-to-be-a-classic Minnesota Rage-Green Bay Bombers game was set for July 31.

By June the deal was off. The devil in the details, it turns out, was this: The Mayo Civic Center Arena was not big enough for an indoor football field. The team wouldn’t fit.

Steve Lange is the editor of Rochester Magazine. His column appears every Tuesday.

Opinion by Steve Lange
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