Thursday, August 10, 2017

On This Date in Minnesota History: August 10

August 10, 1920 – Minneapolis and St. Paul officially became the Northwest terminal of the government air mail service this afternoon when a 12,000-pound Martin bombing plane, carrying 30,000 pieces of mail landed at the Twin City Air Field, Fort Snelling, on its initial trip from Chicago.

As the mammoth ship was brought to a standstill by Pilot Walter Smith, directly in the center of the field, a fleet of fast postal trucks sped to the ship. Before those on foot could reach the plane to extend a welcome to the crew, 11 pouches were tossed into the trucks, which hurried to the post offices in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

In just 23 minutes from the time the plane landed, letter carriers in the Minneapolis downtown post office were sorting the aerial mail for the afternoon business delivery downtown, and 45 minutes later business houses of the city were opening letters that had left Chicago the same day.

Eighteen hours was clipped off the mail transit time from Minneapolis and Chicago by the inauguration of the air mail service. Carrying a crew of six, the mail ship took off at Checkerboard Field, Chicago, promptly at 6:30 a.m. It arrived at La Crosse, Wis., at 10:13 a.m., and took off again at 11:57 a.m., reaching the Snelling speedway at exactly 1:42 p.m.

The plane was in the air just five hours and 28 minutes. Pilots in the mail ship had expected to make the first journey to the Twin Cities in less than five hours, but upon leaving La Crosse stiff western winds were encountered that slowed down the speed of the heavy plane. Further delay in the running time was occasioned by “bumpy” air, entered by the pilots as they were avoiding a storm shortly before reaching La Crosse.

Walter Smith, the pilot in charge, made a clever landing before the 2,000 persons who encircled the speedway to witness the arrival of the mail plane. He approached the landing field at an altitude of 800 feet, descending gradually as he made a large swing around the field. The final descent was made directly in the center of the field and the plane was brought to a dead stop in the center of the field.

The air field was located within the center of the former bankrupted Twin City Motor Speedway.1

C. F. Egge, superintendent of the air mail service for the Western district, said that the success of the initial flight meant that regular air mail service will probably be started on Monday. The trips to Chicago, he said, will be made every other day until such time as air mail service appropriations make it possible for daily outgoing and incoming service.

1921 U. S. Postal Routes2

The Minneapolis Morning Tribune
; “Twin Cities Get first Air Mail in Record Time. Plane Flies From Chicago With 30,000 Letters—2,000 See Landing,”; Aug. 11, 1920; pp. 1 & 2.




If you are interested in finding out more about your family history in Minnesota, I specialize in researching  genealogical and historical records in Minn. and western Wis., including:
census records,  birth records,  death certificates, obits, grave site photos, ship passenger lists, marriage records and declarations of intent/naturalization records.  I will visit locations to research local history and county records, as well as take photos. Quick turnaround on MNHS records. Both short searches and family history reports available.


Discover your roots, and watch the branches of your family tree begin to grow.

Website: > click on Family History

Contact me at:

No comments:

Post a Comment