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.
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.
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.
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.
Thomas Barlow (T.B.) Walker worked his way through school and into Minnesota's lumber industry, where he became unusually successful. He later helped found two of Minneapolis's significant cultural organizations, the Public Library System and the Walker Art Center.
For thirty years, William Bleedorn was one of only a few cow bell manufacturers in the United States. Between 1863 and 1885, his foundry in Carver County produced thousands of bells that were used by farmers across the country.
The nation’s most innovative and most successful law-book-publishing company operated in downtown St. Paul from 1876 until 1992, when it moved to Eagan. In 1876, West Publishing Company began publishing Minnesota State Supreme Court opinions; by 1887, its “reporter” system covered the whole country. In 1908, West introduced an indexing system for all American law. In 1975, it introduced Westlaw, a computerized legal research system. The company was sold to Thomson Reuters in 1996.
After the United States entered World War I in 1917, Minnesota women, like Americans across the nation, were called to contribute to the war effort. Though some went to Europe and served as nurses, drivers, and aid workers on the battlefields, many more participated on the home front. They took on new jobs, conserved vital resources, and joined volunteer organizations. At the same time, they struggled to come to terms with conflicting ideals of patriotism, loyalty, and what it meant to be an American.