The Story Behind Little Falls’ Navy Tobacco Mural
(Abbey Minke, Townsuqare Media)
If you've spent any amount of time in Little Falls, chances are good you have at least seen a glimpse of this mural. It is the Gail & Ax Navy Tobacco painting on the outside of the Hauer Electric Building on 1st Avenue SE.
A Google search for Gail & Ax Navy Tobacco didn't leave me with much information. I did stumble on an antique advertising site that said:
The G. W. Gail & Ax Company produced smoking tobacco, cut plug, chewing tobacco and snuff. Along with the famous Navy brand, their second largest seller was call “Little Joker”. Most of their tobacco product was grown in Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky and Maryland. The production of tobacco eventually reached over three million pounds of finished product and the Gail & Ax firm helped propel Baltimore to become one of the leading tobacco production cities in the United States.
Originally painted by Pete Lind, the Little Falls mural was completed on December 17, 1906, when the temperature was minus 17 degrees. When it was set to be repainted in 2000, it was turned from an advertisement, to an anti-smoking statement piece.
Frank Gosiak was in charge of the project in 2000 by the Freshwater Education District, and 11 students at the time gave the mural new life, and added an addition. To the right there is a painting of a cemetery. The tombstones depicted have increments of 10 years, with the total amount of smoking related deaths painted along side them.
The last panel also shows a pack of tobacco going up in smoke. A strong statement in the battle to put an end to smoking and the death it causes.