NEIGHBORHOOD NOTES | Remembering the Doughty family and NWA 307


Aging though they may be Baby Boomers jog down Minnehaha Parkway with 21st century accoutrements that obliterate the story of one terrible day on the Parkway – March 7, 1950.  On that day Northwest Orient Airlines Flight 307, a Martin 207 twin-prop passenger plane, departed Washington, DC, stopped at Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Detroit and Madison en route to Winnipeg via Fargo and Grand Forks.   Unable to land in Rochester because of bad weather, the plane headed for the Twin Cities.

The plane was coming in for a landing at Wold-Chamberlain in a typical Minnesota snow storm.  Damaged after hitting a 78 foot flagpole at Fort Snelling cemetery the plane circled, lost a wing near Washburn High School then , at 9:00 p.m., the plane crashed into the home of the Franklin Doughty family who lived at 1116 West Minnehaha at Minnehaha Parkway and Emerson.

On that day 10 passengers, three crew members and two Minneapolis children asleep in their beds died a terrible death. [list of the deceased in the Minneapolis Star, March 8, 1950, pp 1&20)]  Two Doughty children, Tommy, age 8, and his 10 year old sister Janet died.  Their older sister Dianne and their parents escaped the flaming house.

Among the others who died were three crew members, including stewardess Mary Alice Kennedy,  a 1942 graduate of St. Joseph’s Academy in St. Paul.

On March 8 the Minneapolis Star covered the news event in painful detail – the nose of the plane buried in the frame structure, the house and two adjacent homes on fire, thousands of gawkers braving the snowstorm, the collapse of the Doughty home.  Still, for decades the tragic story and the pain of the survivors – perhaps because it was so tragic – seemed to be forgotten by the public.  As Bill Hudson of WCCO/CBS wrote recently, “that could soon change.”  The change reflects the efforts of former Minneapolis Councilman Mark Kaplan who listened to the stories – and took action.

Kaplan recognized that the horror of that crash needed to be known.   He approached People for Parks for assistance to manage a project – an initiative to build public awareness by raising $5000 to erect an historic marker on the site of the crash.  Next step was approval by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board for the memorial plaque.

The public, particularly those who knew the victims or remember the tragic event, are welcome to participate in dedication of the memorial which is set for August 27 at the site of the crash.  Time TBA.

Kaplan is clear about his intent in undertaking the effort to memorialize the victims of the 1950 crash:  “Our next generation, when they’re walking up and down the parkway, might have the chance to read what happened, think about it, learn about it and have a greater sense of the history of things that happened in south Minneapolis.”

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