The popular winter sport of bowling

Published 12:26 pm Tuesday, January 1, 2019

By Linda Evenson

Photos courtesy Freeborn County Historical Museum

In 1905, bowling was recognized as the national winter sport. That year, a new bowling alley opened in Albert Lea at 113 S. Newton Ave. Managed by Harry Gillrup, the bowling alley occupied the first floor and was equipped with three lanes. It was elaborately lighted by the American Gas Machine Co.’s system.

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As early as 1885, the City Council approved a bond for Nobel & Wiegand’s bowling alley and granted a license to D. E. Dwyer. Ten years later, an area newspaper ran the ad, “Cultivate your muscle and get healthy by rolling tenpins at Selbig’s bowling alley.”

By 1908, five local bowling teams had formed: the Pioneers, Colts, Tigers, Cubs and Gophers. The following year, the Albert Lea Bowling Club converted a livery barn into a bowling alley. The Albert Lea Bowling Association was organized in 1910.

An interstate bowling tournament was in Minneapolis in February 1910.  Two Albert Lea teams competed, the Brundin Packing Co. team, composed of George Brundin, Russell Edwards, John Larson, Frank Dills and Frank Bessenger; and the Hamm’s Preferred team of Tom Jones, West Beedle, Floyd Willard, Dr. Simonson and E. B. Frost. In 1916, Albert Lea hosted the Interstate Bowling Tournament. The event was so popular, the tournament was extended from three days to five days to accommodate all the participants.