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Minnesota was an ancient foe of daylight-saving time standard

The current debate over the daylight-saving time echoes early battles in Minnesota against clock shift mandates, amid a mishmash of local rules.

Newspaper headline clippings from the Star Tribune and Fergus Falls Daily Journal in 1965 depict a battle the state endured when some cities opted to buck state law and participate in daylight-saving time ahead of the rest of the state.
Newspaper headline clippings from the Star Tribune and Fergus Falls Daily Journal in 1965 depict a battle the state endured when some cities opted to buck state law and participate in daylight-saving time ahead of the rest of the state.
Photo illustration - Trisha Taurinskas/Images courtesy of Newspapers.com, originally published in the Star Tribune and Fergus Falls Daily Journal
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What happens when a state can’t come together on a decision on when to turn the clocks back?

If history has taught Minnesota anything, the answer is mayhem.

While nationwide daylight-saving time adjustments were made during World War I and World War II, it wasn’t until 1966 that Congress passed legislation setting a standard to be followed throughout most of the country.

The year before that happened, Minnesotans were caught in a confusing puzzle of mismatched time zones, with the state’s most heated battle coming out of the Twin Cities area.

In 1965, St. Paul and Minneapolis came to odds when St. Paul broke away from the state’s legalized standard daylight-saving time standard.

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At that time, Minnesota law set daylight savings time to go into effect from the fourth Sunday in May until the day following Labor Day.

That year, the fourth Sunday in May fell on May 23. However, twenty states throughout the country implemented the time change on April 25 — and some communities wanted to go along with them.

St. Paul’s city council voted to institute daylight-saving time two weeks before it was set to go into effect around the state, causing Minneapolis officials to call out its twin city. According to a Star Tribune article from the time, then Governor Karl Rolvaag sounded the alarm when he learned that the state’s capital city was going rogue.

Yet St. Paul wasn’t the only city to buck the legal time frame. Counties and cities throughout the state were ticking to the beat of their own clocks.

At the time St. Paul voted to institute what was referred to as “fast time” daylight-saving time, more than a dozen counties throughout the state had already instituted the preemptive time change. Most of those cities that switched bordered different states, particularly those near Wisconsin.

Among the cities and towns that jumped the gun were Winona and Duluth. Iron Range communities, including Virginia and Eveleth, also voted to go on what was referred to then as "fast time." However, nearby Chisholm voted to stick to the state standard.

That means that, for a short time, schedules were confusing.

"If a fellow in or around Duluth won't give you the time of day, don't feel slighted. He probably doesn't know it," a 1965 article in the Star Tribune stated.

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The article goes on to state that children in nearby Hermantown schools observed daylight-saving time early, while their parents working within the community didn't in the workplace.

Meanwhile, nearby Cloquet stuck to the state's standard time, along with Carlton and Esko. Yet if one was taking a trip up the North Shore, they could expect to adjust to "fast time."

In short, it was a mess — and very controversial.

The politics of time in Minnesota was resolved as an issue the next year, when the United States standardized daylight-saving times.

With new pockets of movements around the country rallying for the repeal of daylight-saving time, only time will tell if it will, once again, become a political topic of priority.

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Trisha Taurinskas is an enterprise crime reporter for Forum Communications Co., specializing in stories related to missing persons, unsolved crime and general intrigue. Her work is primarily featured on The Vault.

Trisha is also the host of The Vault podcast.

Trisha began her journalism career at Wisconsin Public Radio. She transitioned to print journalism in 2008, and has since covered local and national issues related to crime, politics, education and the environment.

Trisha can be reached at ttaurinskas@forumcomm.com.
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