From Cabins to Homes

New Year's Day Tragedy

Credit: from article in Minneapolis Star, January 2, 1960

      Usually life in Independence Beach was uneventful. But there was one incident that everyone remembers.    

      On January 1, 1960, John and Dorothy Preston, who lived at 3167 Lakeshore Ave. (the north end of Lakeshore, next to the marsh), decided to drive to Golden Valley to meet some friends at a tavern. They had no way of knowing the area was about to experience the largest snowfall in two years, a total of 6 inches overnight. 

      It had started snowing and they realized they might not be able to make it up the hill on Lakeshore, so they decided to drive across the lake on the ice. Residents frequently took short cuts across the ice safely. John tried to get off the lake and up to the street at Lakeview Pavilion but there was too much snow, so he continued on to Glampe’s. But the accumulating snow was too deep. 

     John decided to drive across the wide part of the lake to reach the road on the west side. Before the snowstorm, the weather had been warm for several days, and pressure ridges had buckled the ice. The Preston’s car drove over a weak spot and the car broke through the ice.

     John pushed Dorothy out of the car, and then she pulled him to safety.  They started walking toward the lights on the shore. But after being almost submerged in the icy water, his clothes were thoroughly soaked and after taking a few steps, he collapsed. He told Dorothy to go to the nearest house and she headed for shore to get help. By the time the rescuers returned, John had died from hypothermia.  

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DISCLAIMER: I have collected information from a variety of sources, some verifiable, some anecdotal. I've made every effort to ensure accurate information but I can't promise that all of the content is factual. If you recognize any errors, please let me know. Thank you.