Minnesota Historical Society M-Flame Logo
Library

HISTORY TOPICS

Power Line Controversy

Controversy arose from the routing of a high-voltage power line through western and central Minnesota. The line has 659 towers placed at intervals of one-quarter mile on the property of 476 landowners. The controversy escalated as costs of the project rose and additional frustration was created by review processes, and by what many protesters saw as excessive concern by the federal and state governments for wildlife areas and highway right of way at the expense of protection for productive farmland. In addition to local and state government, the controversy involved political parties, churches, civic organizations, and businesses in communities throughout the affected region.

GET STARTED WITH SECONDARY SOURCES:

  • The Impact of Future Electrical Power Requirements on the State of Minnesota: An Issue Analysis, prepared by the Center for the Study of Local Government, Saint John's University, at the request of the Minnesota State Planning Agency.
    Collegeville, Minn.: The Center for the Study of Local Government, [1971].
    MHS call number: HD9685.U6 M67 1971.
  • "Trouble on the Land, Confrontation on the Prairie," by Paul David Wellstone and Lamont Tarbox.
    In The Progressive, vol. 41, no. 12 (Dec. 1977): pp. 41-43.
    MHS call number: TK3091.M6 C684.

PRIMARY RESOURCES:

  • KCMT Anti-Power Line Program.
    Broadcast on KCMT Radio (Alexandria, Minn.), September 18, 1976.
    Representatives of various farm groups express their opposition to the construction of an overhead power line in western and central Minnesota.
    MHS call number: Audiotape no. 127 (in the A-V Collection).
  • Minnesota Office of the Attorney General
    • Criminal Division Case Files.
      Selected criminal case files, [1936]-1986, containing petitions, memoranda, transcripts, and other legal documents that in many cases supplement files of the Minnesota Supreme Court, Appeals Courts, and District Courts. Topics covered in the files include violence at a high voltage power line construction site in Pope County.
      MHS call number: See the black State Archives Notebooks — filed under Attorney General, Criminal Division — for a detailed list of boxes and locator numbers (there are 28 boxes, but not all relate to this topic), or use an electronic version of the inventory.
    • Public Service Division Litigation Files
      Selected litigation files (1975-1983) documenting enforcement and defense of public service rules, regulations, and laws. The files include pleadings, correspondence, hearing transcripts, briefs, testimony, exhibits, and applications. Many files relate to the location of electric power lines and the United Power Association.
      MHS call number: See the black State Archives Notebooks — filed under Attorney General, Public Service Division — for a detailed list of boxes and locator numbers (there are 14 boxes, but not all relate to this topic), or use an electronic version of the inventory.
  • Minnesota Office of the Governor (Perpich), Ronnie Brooks' Files.
    Ronnie Brooks was a special assistant to the governor who dealt primarily with issues relating to the environment, energy, education, health, and welfare. Her files (1977-1978) include constituent correspondence, reports, pamphlets, and other materials, including information on the power line in central Minnesota.
    MHS call number: See the black State Archives Notebooks — filed under Governor, Perpich, Rudy — for a detailed list of boxes and locator numbers (there are 8½ boxes, but not all relate to this topic).
  • Minnesota Power Line Oral History Project Interviews.
    The interviews (1977-1979) represent all major viewpoints, including farmers and townspeople from the affected areas, officials from the Department of Natural Resources, officers and board members of the electric cooperatives building the line, and representatives of state government.
    MHS call number: OH 25 (in the Oral History Collection); see the blue Oral History Notebooks for a finding aid containing a detailed chronology of the events and a list of the interviewees (there are 54 60-minute cassettes and 18 90-minute cassettes).
  • "Pope County Blues," by Larry Long and the Minnesota Swing Symphony.
    "Pope County Blues" concerns the opposition of residents to the construction of a power line through their county, predominantly farmland.
    MHS call number: Disc no. 13-B (in the A-V Collection; 1 sound disc).
  • United Power Association
    • United Power Association Annual Reports.
      MHS call number: Folio HD9685.U54 G7313.
      Note: "Great River Energy" includes the last separately prepared annual report of United Power Association.
    • United Power Association Records.
      Records (1940-1992) of an Elk River-based rural electric cooperative that supplied wholesale electric power to twelve or more consumer-owned electric utilities located in central and northern Minnesota and portions of northwestern Wisconsin.
      MHS call number: See the green Manuscripts Alpha Notebooks — filed alphabetically under United Power Association — for a detailed list of boxes and locator numbers (there are 280 boxes, but not all relate to this topic).
    • United Power Association Newsletters.
      MHS call number:
      • 1970-1980 ("The United Power News"): HD9685.U54 U64c (in the Serials Collection).
      • 1980-1994 ("InterTie"): HD9685.U54 U642 (in the Serials Collection).
      • 1995-1998 ("Newslink"): Microfilm no. 2033 (in the Hubbs Room).
  • Newspapers that may be useful for this topic:
    • Minneapolis Star-Tribune (an index for articles published after 1970 is located in the Hubbs Microfilm Room)
    • Pope County Tribune (Glenwood, Minn.)
    • St. Paul Pioneer Press Dispatch (an index for articles published in 1967 or after is located in the Hubbs Microfilm Room)
    • Sauk Centre Herald
  • Check the library catalog for other materials.