Morton gneiss (pronounced “nice”), named for the town in Renville County where it has been quarried, is one of the oldest stones on the planet: about 3.5 billion years old. It is known for its beauty as an ornamental stone in buildings and monuments.
When George D. Munsing came to Minnesota in 1886 to produce a new line of woolen union suits, he founded an underwear empire. While selling everything from long johns to girdles, the Minnesota company urged generations of consumers, "don't say Underwear, say Munsingwear."
Writers of the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution took a little more than one hundred words to prohibit the manufacture, sale, and transportation of alcoholic beverages. It fell to Minnesota Congressman Andrew Volstead to write the regulations and rules for enforcement. The twelve-thousand-word Volstead Act remained in effect for thirteen years, from 1920 until Prohibition was repealed in December 1933.
George Nelson spent nearly twenty years as a clerk in the fur trade, working for the XY, North West, and Hudson's Bay Companies. He kept extensive journals that offer a valuable picture of life in the fur trade and the culture of the American Indians he met during his travels.
With its lavishly illustrated seed catalogs and store displays, Northrup, King and Company became a household name at the turn of the twentieth century. The company sold hardy, Northern-grown garden seed before expanding into Northern field seed and plant hybrids.
A few months before aviator Charles Lindbergh made his record-breaking transatlantic flight, Northwest Airways, Inc. began carrying airmail between the Twin Cities and Chicago. As Northwest Airlines, Inc., the company became a major international carrier before financial troubles forced its merger with Delta Air Lines, Inc. in 2008.
In the 1880s, several members of the Lewis H. Merritt family discovered hematite on the Mesabi Range. This led to industrial development in northeastern Minnesota and the growth of the Lake Superior iron industry.
Home to many historically significant people and places, Carver County's possibly best-known are recording artist Prince and his Paisley Park Studios. Located in what were Chanhassen cornfields, the site was a key location in Minnesota's music industry. In its heyday, it drew artists and musicians from around the world. Though no longer in business, it still draws the eye of travelers along Highway 5 in Chanhassen.
Flowing out of Detroit Lake to the southwest, short segments of the Pelican River connect a string of five large lakes and two small ones. From 1889 to 1918, steamboats, launches, and a system of locks and channels connected this chain of lakes, which stretches twelve miles southwest from the town of Detroit Lakes.
Charles Alfred Pillsbury was one of Minnesota's most prominent millers. His Minneapolis company, Charles A. Pillsbury and Co., was among the largest milling firms in the world during the last decades of the nineteenth century.
In forty-six years as a Minnesotan, John Sargent Pillsbury helped establish what eventually became one of the world's largest flour-milling businesses, served three terms as governor, and contributed—generously and often anonymously—to numerous causes he deemed worthy.
Thanks to the limestone bluffs and hills that surrounded Red Wing, the town became a Minnesota lime-making and stone quarrying center from 1870 to 1910. Those forty years are sometimes known as the city’s “Stone Age.”
Joseph Rolette was a fur trader and politician during Minnesota's territorial period. A colorful character in his time, Rolette is remembered for the drastic action he took to prevent removal of Minnesota's capital to St. Peter.
On May 11, 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 7037 to create the Rural Electrification Administration (REA), a New Deal public relief program. The program provided $1 million for federal loans to bring electric service to rural areas. It revolutionized life in rural Minnesota and across the country.
In 1904, immigrant baker Arvid Peterson gave a Swedish-styled cracker a modern American name and introduced the country to Ry-Krisp. For decades, Minneapolis was the one and only location where the product was made.
Since the first sawmill was built near Red Lake in 1856, the harvesting and processing of timber has been a significant part of the local economy. It has provided an enduring source of income for the Ojibwe living in the area that is now the Red Lake Indian Reservation.
John Sayer was a fur trader, a merchant, and a partner in several fur trade companies for more than thirty years. In the late 1790s, he became a partner of the North West Company and proprietor of their Fond du Lac district, supervising trade with the Ojibwe south of Lake Superior and west across what is now northern Minnesota.
When 3M began doing business in 1902, it made sandpaper. Soon the sandpaper company invented a line of products that changed household life around the world. 3M's Scotch brand masking tape and cellophane tape were small inventions that started a consumer revolution.
Launched in 1890, Hesper was a bulk freighter with a forward pilot-house, designed to haul loads like grain and iron ore across the Great Lakes. With masts and a steam engine, Hesper was a hybrid that reflected the transition from wind-powered vessels to mechanically propelled ships.
The Soudan Mine, which opened in 1884, is located at the western edge of the Vermilion range, about two miles northeast of Tower. It was the first iron mine in the state, and its first ore shipment in the summer of 1884 marked the beginning of the state's mining industry.
Donald Dayton, head of Minneapolis-based Dayton's department stores, teamed up with designer Victor Gruen to create a comfortable, convenient setting for Minnesota shoppers. In 1952, Dayton and Gruen unveiled their plans for Southdale, the nation's first enclosed, weatherproofed mall.
Split Rock Lighthouse opened in the summer of 1910 to guide bulk ore ships sailing near Lake Superior's rocky coast. By 1940, its picturesque North Shore setting had made it one of the most visited lighthouses in the United States.