Emile Julien Amblard, known as the "Duke of Clearwater Lake," became one of Coney Island's leading residents. He bought his first piece of land there in 1893. The western edge of the island and a building in Waconia would become his passion for the next twenty-one years.
The Beltrami Island Project was a pioneering land program of the New Deal enacted across hundreds of thousands of acres in northern Minnesota. Federal and state governments worked side by side to move residents off of poor farmland as well as to restore forest across areas of the cutover region.
Bonanza farms—large, commercial farming enterprises that grew thousands of acres of wheat—flourished in northwestern Minnesota and the Dakotas from the 1870s to 1920. Geology, the Homestead Act of 1862, railroads, modern machinery, and revolutionary new flour-milling methods all contributed to the bonanza farm boom.
In 1878, Red River Valley businessmen Henry A. Bruns and Henry G. Finkle built the first steam-powered grain elevator in the United States. In its first harvest season, the grain elevator handled almost 250,000 bushels of wheat from more than 5,000 wagons.
The Carver County Fair has a long and rich history, dating back to 1868. On July 20, the Carver County Agricultural Society formed in Chaska. Later that year, on October 10, this group held the first Carver County fair in Chaska, to display their crops and animals. An elected Board of Directors planned the fair. Despite later battles over location, the fair has been held almost every year since.
The U.S. Congress paved the way for the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) when it passed the Emergency Conservation Work (ECW) Act in March 1933, at the height of the Great Depression. This New Deal program offered meaningful work to young men with few employment prospects. It resulted in a lasting legacy of forestry, soil, and water conservation, as well as enhancements to Minnesota's state and national parks.
In 1890, the Danish American community in Clarks Grove established one of the first cooperative creameries in Minnesota. It became a model for the Minnesota dairy industry. Ten years later, there were more than 550 cooperative creameries in the state.
When the farmers of Traverse County founded Minnesota's first Farm Bureau, it signaled a new movement in Minnesota agriculture. In the century since its creation, the Farm Bureau has worked on the local, state, and national levels to support farmers and act as the "voice of agriculture" in America.
The Farmers' Alliance in Minnesota thrived from 1886 to 1892. During this time, the organization achieved the most progress toward its political goals in the state. These included greater regulation of the railroad industry as it impacted the wheat market, elimination of irregularities in the grading of wheat, and minimization or elimination of the middleman in the wheat trade.
The Farmers' Holiday Association was formed in 1932. The Midwestern organization successfully fought against farm foreclosures with novel strategies like penny auctions, but unsuccessfully lobbied Congress for a federal system that would pay farmers for their crops based on the cost of production.
In the 1880s, Minnesota farmers saw the need for education but resisted "book farming," or learning how to farm by reading instructional text. Farmers' institutes, lecture series that traveled to rural communities and taught practical farming skills, were popular alternatives in the 1880s through the 1920s.
The stone barn built by German immigrant Frank Schott in 1923 is a prime example of innovative Midwestern architecture. The barn, located just southwest of Chokio, stands out above the fields near the Stevens and Big Stone County lines. Many feel it serves as a reminder of the determination and skills of the immigrants who did their own building throughout the Midwest. Though the barn’s wooden roof collapsed in 1993, its stone walls remain standing in the early twenty-first century.
When completed in 1867, the Spangenberg house was surrounded by an eighty-acre dairy farm, well outside the St. Paul city limits. Today, the house is surrounded not by fields and barns but by the paved streets and ample houses of the Highland Park neighborhood.
The official source of "the Minnesota Pickle" and creators of the State Fair pickle line, Gedney Foods is an iconic Minnesota company, with products distributed throughout the Midwest. Founded in 1880, Gedney continues to grow one of the more successful pickle brands in the United States.
The Gehl-Mittelsted Farmstead is located in the far southern part of Carver County, in San Francisco Township. One of Carver County's many historic properties, the farmstead was placed on Minnesota's Ten Most Endangered Historic Sites list in 2006.
On June 12, 1873, farmers in southwestern Minnesota saw what looked like a snowstorm coming towards their fields from the west. What seemed to be snowflakes were in fact grasshoppers. In a matter of hours, knee-high fields of grass and wheat were eaten to the ground by hungry hoppers.
In the 1880s, agricultural education in Minnesota was in trouble: farmers would not travel to the Twin Cities for classes, and university students did not want to study farming. Oren C. Gregg, a successful dairy farmer from Lyon County, Minnesota, saved the day by bringing lectures directly to Minnesota farmers.
Wendelin Grimm was born October 18, 1818 in Kulsheim, Baden, Germany, to Valentine and Marie (Adelmann) Grimm. He grew up in a farm rich area of southern Germany, learning important crops and farming practices. In 1845, Grimm married Julianna Segner (born June 15, 1821) of Steinback, Baden, Germany. The Grimms chances to own a farm were limited by the land inheritance practices of the time. Farming and crop prices were under pressure, and their future in Germany looked grim. With a growing family to support, sons Frank and Joseph and daughter Ottilia, Wendelin and Julianna looked to America for their family's future.
In 1868, the grain trade in Minnesota was growing, but few railroads existed in the state. Steamboats were the supreme mode of transportation. William Robinson built a grain warehouse on the banks of the Mississippi to take advantage of the steamboat traffic. Shortly afterward the town of Jefferson was plotted. In a few years, however, the railroad came through, and a larger town was platted to the south. The Jefferson Grain Warehouse quickly became obsolete.
Oliver Hudson Kelley was a "book farmer," a man who had learned what he knew about agriculture from reading rather than from direct experience. In 1867, he helped found the National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry, the nation's largest agricultural fraternity.
Minnesota's southeastern counties held a commanding position during the second half of the nineteenth century, considered the state's King Wheat era. In these decades, many farmers throughout the state grew wheat in preference to all other crops.
On April 12, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson called upon Americans on the home front to help fight what would become known as World War I. In response, many Minnesotans turned to backyard gardening to increase their food supply. Homegrown vegetables filled pantries and stomachs and allowed “citizen soldiers” to conserve wheat, meat, sugar, and fats that were essential for U.S. troops and their European allies.
In 1880, two Minneapolis businessmen built the Lincoln Flouring Mill in Anoka, Minnesota. The Lincoln Mill became one the largest country flour mills in the state, surviving until 1939 in spite of catastrophes like the Anoka fire of 1884.
When Hanley Falls School closed in the late 1970s, a few local residents saw an opportunity. Committed to sharing the history of their community, they transformed the white, two-story building on the town square into the Minnesota Machinery Museum. Since 1980, the museum has collected vintage farm equipment and created exhibits celebrating the history and agricultural tradition of Yellow Medicine County.