Fires, Floods, Blizzards, and Crashes: Disasters in Scott County through LeRoy Lebens’ Photos

As a man who seemed to always have his camera nearby, LeRoy Lebens managed to capture a wide variety of happenings here in Shakopee and Scott County. In our inventorying of his large catalog of work here at SCHS, his pictures of disasters in the area, both man-made and natural, have caught my attention. LeRoy succeeded in being in the right place at the right time to document people’s reactions and the damage done. Two of the more notable incidents we have in our collection include the Ketterer building fire in downtown Shakopee on September 7, 1957, which took three hours and six fire departments to extinguish and the great flood of April 1965 that saw the Minnesota River crest at a record height of 721.8 feet. This flood submerged a third of Chaska and cut off access to Hwy 169 North for 15 days, requiring boats to be used to ferry people back and forth. Some of the other photos we highlight here include a train derailment off of 2nd Ave and left grain all over the street, blizzards (including LeRoy digging himself out of one), and a number of other business fires, most notably of the iconic St Paul House where LeRoy would often play swing with his trio. If you would like to learn more about these events, or to see more of the Lebens collection, come on by the Scott County Historical Society!

 

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