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Jim Kershner’s This day in history

From our archives, 35 years ago

It was supposed to be a Woodstock-like weekend of love, peace and music. But the Nor’wester ’76 rock festival at the Northwest Speedway at Stateline turned into a fiery, destructive riot.

Hundreds of young rock fans went wild on the second day of the festival, when it became clear that promoters were leaving them in the lurch and the festival was shutting down early. Some acts, such as Blue Oyster Cult, had played their sets, but most of the headliners, including Bachman-Turner Overdrive, never showed.

• One fan hot-wired a 100-foot crane and began driving it around. He finally crashed it and the crane toppled onto the – mercifully empty – stage.

• Somebody commandeered an ice-cream truck and drove it to the top of the berm above the grandstand. Then people shoved it over the brink. It tumbled all the way down the grandstand to the infield, where it landed on its side. Then somebody set fire to it.

• People then set fire to nearly every semitruck, trailer and building on the site. Diesel tanks exploded.

Police could do little but stand on the highway and watch as oily smoke billowed into the sky. Six people were hospitalized, but no one died. Damage was estimated at a quarter-million dollars.

Also on this date

(From the Associated Press)

1944: Allied forces in World War II stormed the beaches of Normandy, France, on “D-Day.”