Society for Industrial Archeology Conference Recap Part 2: Sessions & Banquet in St. Paul

Detail on a downtown St. Paul building
Detail on a downtown St. Paul building

This is Part 2 of my recap from the 2013 Society for Industrial Archeology Conference. You can find Part 1 and lots of fun pictures from the Twin Cities over here.

Beautiful St. Paul

I wasn’t able to get too many photos of downtown St. Paul, but I was able to grab a few on Friday evening and on Saturday. The Cathedral of St. Paul seemed to tower over the downtown, while the State Capitol building is a beautiful structure. Driving around downtown St. Paul, I was able to really appreciate the preserved historic buildings, especially at the Landmark Center and the historic St. Paul Hotel where the conference was held.

Minnesota State Capitol
Minnesota State Capitol
Cathedral of St. Paul
Cathedral of St. Paul

Saturday’s Paper Sessions

The SIA Conference included three paper session tracks, including one specifically dedicated to the 23rd Historic Bridge Symposium. I was excited to present as part of the Historic Bridge Symposium on my paper titled “The Bailey Bridge: Misconceptions in Identification, Significance, and Preservation.” My presentation focused on the history of the bridge, a World War II engineering innovation that revolutionized the portable bridge, and the preservation of the Bailey bridge at Camp Atterbury.

Presenting on the Bailey Bridge during the Historic Bridge Symposium
Presenting on the Bailey Bridge during the Historic Bridge Symposium (Photo thanks to Kaitlin)

I learned so much about historic bridges during the bridge symposium, including some unique historic bridge rehabilitations and challenges faced by DOTs and governments across the United States. You can read all the abstracts from all three tracks of the Society for Industrial Archeology conference here.

Wabasha Street Caves

Saturday night’s banquet was held at the historic Wabasha Street Caves. The caves started as part of the Mushroom Valley in the late 1800s, early 1900s. They were later transformed into a nightclub and used as a gangster hangout during prohibition. More recently, the caves were turned into a banquet facility, where they hosts events (including our banquet dinner!). We were able to have dinner in the first two caves, while we also received the “Gangster Tour” in the fourth and fifth caves.

Wabasha Street Caves
Wabasha Street Caves
Banquet hall area in the first cave, Wabasha Street Caves
Banquet hall area in the first cave, Wabasha Street Caves
Bar area in the second cave, Wabasha Street Caves
Bar area in the second cave, Wabasha Street Caves
Tour of Cave #4, Wabasha Street Caves
Tour of Cave #4, Wabasha Street Caves

During the conference, I was able to (finally!) meet Kaitlin, who blogs over at Preservation in Pink. It almost seemed like we had met before – from communicating over social media (including sharing cat photos on instagram) – and we were old friends catching up! You can also read Kaitlin’s recap of the conference on her blog.

Raina and Kaitlin in the Wabasha Street Caves
Raina and Kaitlin in the Wabasha Street Caves

Overall, the entire Society for Industrial Archeology conference was an amazing experience, highlighted by great tours, paper sessions, and the personal interactions! I hope I can attend next year’s conference in Portland, Maine.

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