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Answer Man: Walls along Highway 46 were 'blast barriers'

Sometimes I think I've raised the bar too high. People expect too much of me.

Last week, an Answer Man correspondent named Annette sent a question about the industrial ruins in Rosemount along Dakota County Road 46, and she also sent a photo. In Monday's column, I gently reminded her that I've addressed this mystery previously and to the great satisfaction of thousands of readers: That area was home to the Gopher Ordnance Works during World War II, one of the more interesting wartime projects in Minnesota.

That elicited a fairly Grinchy comment from a Grand Meadow reader:

Dear Answer Man, I think your answer regarding the Gopher Ordnance site is very unsatisfactory. What were the strange structures USED FOR?

I'm a daily reader — once a day is more than enough. Thank you.


Well, OK, then. My goal is to satisfy every single reader, wherever they may live and wherever their curiosity leads them. In this case, we're talking about an industrial site that was used for just a year or two about 70 years ago, then fell into ruins and in more recent years has been redeveloped in part by the University of Minnesota and Dakota County Technical College.

That said, here's what I've learned about the doggone concrete walls.

According to one well-documented source , those heavy-duty walls were "blast barriers" in case of explosions during solvent recovery from gunpowder. The walls would protect people working nearby, and assuming the road went by there in the 1940s, passersby as well.

I don't know about you, but there are days when I could use "blast barriers" around my desk — and NOT because of blasting on my side of the cubicle walls.

Hats off to Gerald Mattson, a retired Northwest Airlines mechanic who's done great research on the Ordnance Works, and to KARE-TVfor a story on this several years ago. Until someone else can provide more information, I'll consider this mystery solved, and I hope my curious reader in Grand Meadow does, too.

As I've mentioned before, I find this whole topic fascinating. If you do, too, Gerald was involved in producing a DVD called "The History of the Gopher Ordnance Works," which is available at the Dakota County Public Library in Eagan and maybe by interlibrary loan. And there are plenty of documents online about the environmental and social issues left behind by the Works.

If you read this column online, you're aware that the links are always available .

Dear Answer Man, when are the restaurants in the Kahler Grand Hotel going to reopen? They've been closed since before Christmas.


Yes, they have — since Dec. 19, according to a sign in the Kahler Grand lobby. I asked at the front desk when the eateries are to reopen and I was told they'll be ready to go on Sunday.

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