I found a fun blog called A Canadian Family that's about genealogy, family history, and vintage postcards. The blog regularly hosts "carnivals" where they request blog posts on a certain topic, and bring all the submitted posts together to form a sort of online magazine. The subject of their current blog carnival, with submissions ending today, happens to be "A Festival of Postcards, Series 7, Light." [Note: Series 7, Light is now open, and my post is featured in the first section! You can visit the carnival here.]
I have a pitiful collection of vintage postcards (three, to be exact), but my collection happens to include one that fits the "Light" theme beautifully: Electric Fountain, Olcott Park, Virginia, Minn. (above). This postcard also fits in nicely with A Canadian Family's genealogy theme. I bought it because of my interest in the Virginia area on the Iron Range in Northern Minnesota, because that's where the paternal branch of my family hails from. My husband and I own a cabin on the Iron Range that once belonged to my grandmother, and we are familiar with many of my distant cousins since we spend as much time as we can there in the summer.
I've written a Squidoo lens on things to do in Northern Minnesota, and Olcott Park, a 40-acre public park in Virginia, is on the must-see list. When my kids we younger, we would often picnic at the fountain, where they'd try to catch the frogs that swam there!
The fountain in Olcott Park is no longer lit at night (due to financial constraints), but in the mid-20th century it was a major tourist attraction for the area. It was built as part of the government's back-to-work efforts as The Great Depression was ending. It's in a beautiful sunken garden with stone walls and stairs.
As the website IronRange.org explains:
The park also became famous for its illuminated fountain. Constructed by General Electric Company, the fountain was one of only a few built in the United States. When it opened in 1937, policemen were posted at the site to control the traffic. Its fascinating combination of colored floodlights and sprays was created by a seven-projector device with 360 variations per hour. The operation was controlled in the base of the fountain by an electric motor with rotary switches which ran from 8:30 in the morning until 10:00 at night.
Interestingly, Olcott Park is also home to the Museum of the Historical Society of Virginia, which has a vast collection of... historical vintage postcards! See how it all comes together for this one blog post, which I submit to the Festival of Postcards, Series 7, Light!