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No place like home, slippers recovered

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Dawn Wallace, a conservator for the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History, analyzes one of the recovered slippers at the Smithsonian’s Conservation Lab in Washington, D.C. (Smithsonian photo)

 from the FBI:

A pair of ruby slippers featured in the classic 1939 film The Wizard of Oz and stolen from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, in 2005, was seized in a sting operation conducted in Minneapolis earlier this summer.
While the FBI has identified suspects and has executed multiple search warrants in Minnesota and Florida in connection with the investigation, investigators are seeking the public’s help to identify all parties associated with the initial theft and the more recent scheme to defraud and extort the Markel Corporation, the owner of the slippers.

The ruby slippers are one of several pairs used in the production of the movie classic. Only four pairs of the shoes used in the film are known to remain and are widely viewed as among the most recognizable memorabilia in American film history. Current estimates value the slippers in the millions of dollars should they be sold at auction.

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Minnesota fort

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The United States flag flies over Historic Fort Snelling in Minneapolis, Minn. At left is the fort's Round Tower. (c) J.S. Reinitz 2014

The United States flag flies over Historic Fort Snelling in Minneapolis, Minn. At left is the fort’s Round Tower. (c) J.S. Reinitz 2014

Perched on a bluff over the intersection of the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers, Fort Snelling is an outpost that long outlived its original purpose.

In the 1820s, long before Minnesota was a state, the fur trade was the cornerstone of commerce in the new world. The fort was built to protect the industry.

Not more than a few decades later, the fur bubble had burst, and Fort Snelling took up other roles. It oversaw the uprooting and relocation of Native American tribes in the area and acted as an induction station for the U.S. Army during every major conflict through World War II.

It was decommissioned in 1946 and designated a historic landmark in 1960.

Today, the fort’s historic buildings have been restored as a museum that’s manned by a small army of reenactment soldiers. They even have a cannon.

Photo: For Czale

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For sale sign on a Czechoslovakia mural. The phone number has been obscured preclude unwanted calls. (c) J.S. Reinitz

For sale sign on a Czechoslovakia mural. The phone number has been obscured preclude unwanted calls. (c) J.S. Reinitz

Mural with a map for former Czechoslovakia. (c) J.S. Reinitz

Mural with a map for former Czechoslovakia. (c) J.S. Reinitz

As turmoil continues to spread in Ukraine, we found it interesting that a former Eastern Bloc country that dissolved in 1992 is being offered for sale by a Minnesota real estate firm.  The sign (which has the phone number redacted) didn’t mention the price, but we assume the listing includes the following selling points:

— Zoned Commercial, residential and agricultural.

— 1,366,041,600 square feet. Will subdivide on request.

— Nice view of the Carpathian Mountains.

— Access to the Danube River.

Book on caves

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For Fathers Day, my kids got me a book that I’ve had my eye on for awhile — Iowa Underground: A Guide to the State’s Subterranean Treasures. I first encountered it a number of years ago on Google books, and then it appeared on the shelves of a local big-box bookstore.

Written by Greg Brick, a Minnesota geology professor, the tome highlights several caves on public lands, complete with history, gear recommendations and directions. It has a few of my favorite haunts, a lot of locations I knew about but have yet to explore and even a few new caverns.

In the spirit of Fathers Day, I plan to use the book to inspire my kids to go off on adventures.

Published by Trail Books, 223 pages. (6.17.12)