Donaldson’s, also known as William Donaldson and Company and L. S. Donaldson’s, was a Minneapolis department store located on Nicollet Avenue and Sixth Street. Started by two immigrant brothers, the company grew to be one of the major retail chains in the Twin Cities, rivaling Dayton’s for much of the twentieth century.
The Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range Railway (DM&IR) was a small railroad that hauled iron ore and taconite from the mines of northern Minnesota’s Mesabi and Vermilion Iron Ranges to docks on Lake Superior at Duluth and Two Harbors. It operated in northern Minnesota and Wisconsin.
The Duluth, Winnipeg and Pacific Railway (DW&P) was a Minnesota railroad that operated between International Falls and Duluth. It connected to the Canadian National at International Falls and to the Northern Pacific at Duluth. As a subsidiary of the Canadian National for almost all of the twentieth century, it moved freight along an artery between the Canadian West and the American Midwest through Minnesota.
From 1906 to the 1960s, Danish-born brothers Valdemar and Soren Egekvist built a model of immigrant enterprise. They applied Old World skills in a New World economy. Their chain of Minneapolis bakery stores ultimately led to nationally distributed baked goods.
The Faribault Woolen Mill Company has statewide significance as one of the largest and oldest fully integrated woolen mills in Minnesota. The mill started as a small family-owned business in the nineteenth century and grew to become the largest and longest-surviving woolen mill in the state.
Minnesota Territory experienced a boom period starting in 1855. Industry flourished region-wide and companies amassed incredible wealth. The Financial Panic of 1857 brought the good times to a halt and interrupted the growth of the fledgling state.
From 1615 until 1821, Lake Superior was known as "the Great Crossroads" of the western fur trade. The north shore of the lake harbored the major water routes to the western interior of North America. The British inherited the Lake Superior region from the French after the French and Indian War. In the later decades of the eighteenth century, the British North West Company controlled the Lake Superior fur trade. The North West Company was founded in 1779 by Scottish businessmen in Montreal.
Since 1929, the Foshay Tower has been a vital part of the Minneapolis skyline. When it was built, the thirty-two-story tower was the tallest building between Chicago and the West Coast. In the 1970s and 1980s, much taller skyscrapers were built, but the attractive Foshay Tower remained a crowning glory of Minnesota architecture.
In 1932, singer Bing Crosby had a major hit with his recording of E. Y. Harburg and Jay Gorney's song "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?" Its lyrics could have been the story of Wilbur B. Foshay: "Once I built a tower up to the sun/ brick and rivet and lime/ Once I built a tower, now it's done/ Brother, can you spare a dime?" Foshay built a fortune, built a tower in Minneapolis—and then lost it all in the stock market crash of 1929.
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 Great Northern Railway was a transcontinental railroad system that extended from St. Paul to Seattle. Among the transcontinental railroads, it was the only one that used no public funding and only a few land grants. As the northernmost of these lines, the railroad spurred immigration and the development of lands along the route, especially in Minnesota.
First founded in 1903 as the Minnesota Valley Canning Company (MVCC), the Green Giant Company, as it later became known, became one of the largest producers of canned corn and peas in the United States. From its base in Le Sueur, the company developed new ways of growing, manufacturing, and marketing canned vegetables. Its mascot, the Jolly Green Giant, can be found in grocery stores around the United States.
Daniel Greysolon, Sieur du Lhut, was born in Lyons, France around 1639. Greysolon was a nobleman, and quickly rose to prominence in the French royal court. He traveled to New France (Quebec, Canada) in 1674 at the age of thirty-eight to command the French marines in Montreal.
A prime example of entrepreneurial spirit, Susie Schmitt Hanson was a pioneer for Minnesota women in business. As the owner of one of Waconia's longest-running businesses, she remains a prominent figure in the history of that town.
James J. Hill fit the nickname “empire builder.” He assembled a rail network—the Great Northern (1878), the Northern Pacific (1896), and the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy (1901)—that stretched from Duluth to Seattle across the north, and from Chicago south to St. Louis and then west to Denver. He was one of the most successful railroad magnates of his time.
The world's most iconic home thermostat was created in Minneapolis. The Round, designed by engineer Carl Kronmiller and designer Henry Dreyfuss, was introduced in 1953 by the company then known as Minneapolis-Honeywell. The Round became both a sales mainstay and a world-renowned piece of industrial art.
With the rapid growth of the cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis in the mid-nineteenth century, the need for a reliable form of public transportation became apparent. Horse-drawn streetcars provided the answer and sparked the growth of what would become one of the most extensive streetcar systems in the country.
Young Red Wing newspaper editor Lucius F. Hubbard backed his words with action when he enlisted as a private in the Fifth Minnesota Volunteers during the Civil War. He emerged from the fighting as a general and a war hero, and became wealthy through wheat marketing, milling, and railroads. He was elected governor in 1881.
As enthusiasm for professional sports grew in Minnesota during the mid-twentieth century, Metropolitan Stadium, designed for baseball, became too small and had too few amenities to continue to attract professional teams. By the early 1970s, Minnesota's teams, seeking greater profits, began to demand a bigger and better venue. The Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome ("The Dome"), a covered, multi-purpose stadium built in downtown Minneapolis, served this purpose for thirty-one years.
Centralized hydroelectric power came on for the first time in the United States in downtown Minneapolis on September 5, 1882. Minnesota Brush Electric Company produced the power, beating a similar effort in Appleton, Wisconsin, by twenty-five days.
From 1883-1915, Imdieke Brickyard in Meire Grove produced bricks using traditional European methods. Residents supported this business venture by purchasing materials to create structures that represented their German culture.
"If not fully satisfied, your money cheerfully refunded." We take statements like this for granted today, but when twenty-eight-year-old entrepreneur Joseph Ray (J.R.) Watkins of Plainview, Minnesota, put that message on a bottle of his Red Liniment, he was a trailblazer.