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.
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.
On October 5, 1869, water seeped and then gushed into a tunnel underneath St. Anthony Falls creating an enormous whirlpool. The falls were nearly destroyed. It was years before the area was fully stabilized and the falls were again safe from collapse.
Published in Minneapolis between 1885 and 1940, Svenska Amerikanska Posten (the Swedish American Post) was one of the largest and most popular Swedish-language newspapers in the United States. It catered to an urban, secular segment of the Swedish American community.
Before burning to the ground in 2011, the Swany White Flour Mill was the last remaining 19th century mill in use in Minnesota. Located in Freeport, the mill produced white flour, mixes, and other grain products for more than a century. It was a local landmark and was a frequent stop for people interested in the history of milling and bread baking.
By the 1970s, Red Wing's famed Main Street scarcely resembled its 1870s glory days. But Red Wing was revitalized in the following decades by the vision and initiative of the Red Wing Shoe Company's William D. Sweasy.
Nestled into a small valley between the mansions of Dayton's Bluff and St. Paul proper, Swede Hollow was a bustling community tucked away from the prying eyes of the city above. It lacked more than it offered; houses had no plumbing, electricity, or yards, and there were no roads or businesses. In spite of this, it provided a home to the poorest immigrants in St. Paul for nearly a century.
Founded in 1882, the Farmer grew from a small publication produced by Edward A. Webb and his wife to a large magazine with a circulation of over 175,000. For over one hundred years, it was published by the Webb Company in St. Paul.
The discovery of iron ore on the Mesabi Range can hardly be credited to one person. In 1890, however, it was the family of Lewis Merritt that discovered merchantable ore and opened the Mesabi to industry. Within three years, they owned several mines and had built a railroad leading to immense ore docks in Duluth. On the cusp of controlling a mining empire in northern Minnesota, they lost everything to business titan John D. Rockefeller.
Swan Turnblad was a prominent Swedish Minnesotan and the manager, editor, and publisher of Svenska Amerikanska Posten, a Swedish American newspaper. He donated his family home and the newspaper to the newly founded American Institute of Swedish Arts, Literature and Science (later renamed the American Swedish Institute) near the end of his life.
Wage cuts to employees of the Minneapolis and St. Paul streetcar companies in 1889 prompted a fifteen-day strike that disrupted business and escalated into violence before its resolution. In spite of public support for the strikers, the streetcar companies succeeded in breaking the strike with few concessions.
Horse car and cable car systems in the Twin Cities spurred urban growth and gave residents more mobility. The coming of the electric streetcar in 1889 had an even greater impact. With cars that could travel faster and farther, the system grew to become one of the nation's finest public transportation networks before the dominance of automobiles and buses in the 1950s.
The Universal Laboratories building played a key role during World War II by ensuring that the United States had an adequate domestic supply of the essential crude drug ergot. As war threatened to cut off imported supplies of crude ergot, Universal Laboratories developed an effective collecting and processing operation in Dassel.