National Geographic : 1949 Sep
Like a Fugitive from Manhattan, 32-story Foshay Tower Dominates Minneapolis The tapering office building, dedicated in 1929, is patterned after the Washington Monument and topped by a television transmitter. From its lofty balcony visitors get a magnificent view of the city. Tallest of the buildings at right is the 27-story Rand Tower. In the foreground traffic flows along Third Avenue. More than a third of Minnesota's 2,940,000 inhabitants live in the Twin Cities metropolitan district. of blue-like lakes, but too square-cornered. These are blossoming fields of flax, a double barreled cash crop. "Lakes" of Flax Yield Oil, Paper Minnesota grows more flax than any other State-36 percent of the country's total. Seeds produce linseed oil for paint, linoleum, and the ink that prints these words; oil cake makes dairy feed; and since early in World War II most of the country's cigarette paper has come from Minnesota seed-flax straw. Except for a tiny percentage used for rugs, insulation, cord, and stuffing for furni ture, virtually all of this straw formerly was burned in the fields. Along the roads now are stacks as big as houses, waiting to be hauled off to such plants as one at Windom, "the Flax Capital." Here is a factory that needs no fuel; its boilers burn waste from the straw itself. The outer fiber, a tangled blond tow, goes to cigarette-paper factories in East and South, replacing linen rags imported from Europe till war cut off the supply.* Though there's many a slip between a laboratory and commercial use, scientists at the University of Minnesota have found that this seedy relative of the fiber flax grown for linen-chiefly abroad-can be made into linen, too. Corn-husking Champion Now Uses Machine With prices good, most farmers lack little that their neighbors in city and town enjoy. Sixty-nine percent of the farms have electric ity. Many use bottled gas, a by-product of high-octane gasoline plants in the South. On one of Minnesota's 188,952 farms I met Ted Balko, twice winner of the national corn-husking championship in the 1930's. * See "Dixie Spins the Wheel of Industry," by Wil liam H. Nicholas, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, March, 1949.