Boy Scout Troop 17 centennial: The 1950s-1980s
This is the second of three articles marking the centennial of Troop 17, Boy Scouts of America. Troop 17 is the second-oldest continuously chartered troop in Minnesota, and the oldest troop in Minnesota continuously chartered by one organization and meeting in the same building as when it began.
By Mike Smith
In 1950, eight scouts from Troop 17 attended the National Jamboree held at Valley Forge, Pa. It was the first Boy Scout Jamboree held since 1937. Troop member Bob Wall recalled that Troop 17 scout Dave Tutford won the log chopping contest by using a real sharp cutting axe and taking short, quick strokes, while all the other competitors were taking huge, long swings with their axes.
The troop served as an honor guard at the wedding of scout leader Ken Bacheller and his bride, Gwen, who were also members of St. Anthony Park Congregational Church. In 1951, they again attended a wedding, this time for Scoutmaster Herb Putnam.
In 1953, for the fourth year in a row, Troop 17 took first place at the Scout Roundup competition sponsored by the St. Anthony Park Association. Three other St. Anthony Park troops also participated.
Four Troop 17 scouts made the rank of Eagle in 1956. That was followed in 1957 with three more scouts making the rank of Eagle.
In 1961, Troop 17 reached its largest size ever—50 scouts! Those numbers were short-lived, however, and by 1965 the troop had dwindled to a mere handful. The troop hung in there and remained active, including putting on a 50th anniversary celebration in 1966.
Troop 22 at St. Anthony Park United Methodist Church did not survive this Scouting decline and folded in 1967. By 1968, Troop 17 was on the rebound with more scouts added to the roster.
In 1970, Troop 17 created a Rube Goldberg–type “Can Crusher,” an ingenious pioneering project, for a Scout Council Fun Fair at the State Fairgrounds. In 1974, another St. Anthony Park troop, Troop 80, folded. A sizeable financial gift was given to the troop in 1975 from the estate of an early Troop 17 Scout.
In 1979, the troop mushed and muscled its way to an impressive first place at the district Klondike Derby, in spite of a blizzard. Also in 1979, another neighborhood troop, Troop 48, folded, leaving Troop 17 as the only remaining St. Anthony Park Boy Scout troop.
Troop 17 celebrated its 65th anniversary in 1981. By 1983, High Adventure trips became annual events that have continued to the present. These are extended trips for older, more experienced and advanced scouts and leaders.
The trips have included:
- Backpacking in the Bighorn Mountains in Wyoming, the Bear Tooth Range of Montana and Wyoming, Glacier National Park and the Bob Marshall Wilderness, Isle Royale National Park, the Wind River Range in Wyoming, and Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico
- Canoe trips in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Quetico Provincial Park in Ontario, and many rivers and lakes in Minnesota
- Bike trips to Wisconsin Dells, the Iron Range down to Lake Superior to Pine City, and Duluth, along the south shore of Lake Superior to Ashland, Wis.
- Sailing trips in the Apostle Islands and the Florida Keys
Also in 1983, a large group of scouts and leaders merged into Troop 17 from a folding Lauderdale troop. In 1984, the troop once again attended the wedding of John and Joanne Wahlstrom. Also that year a series of annual canoe trips began in memory of former Troop 17 scout Chris Stout.
In 1986, Troop 17 celebrated six Eagle Scouts in one year, and most of them celebrated their Court of Honor together. Three years later, in 1989, Eagle Scout Bill Healy earned the Silver Eagle Palm, earning an additional 15 merit badges beyond earning the rank of Eagle.
The Troop 17 centennial celebration will be held on Saturday, Feb. 27, 5-8 p.m. at St. Anthony Park United Church of Christ, 2129 Commonwealth Ave. If you or someone you know is a former member of troop or a family member of a former Troop 17 Scout, you are invited to attend. There will be a dinner and program, as well as historical displays of troop memorabilia.
Contact Mike Smith, Troop 17 Centennial Celebration Committee, Troop 17 Centennial, c/o St. Anthony Park United Church of Christ, 2129 Commonwealth Ave., St. Paul, MN 55108, or contact him by phone, 651-398-5552, or email, firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find information at the Troop 17 website, troop17.sap.org, and Facebook page, St. Anthony Park Troop 17.