The 1878 Washburn A Mill Explosion

On the evening of May 2, 1878, the Washburn A Mill exploded in a fireball, hurling debris hundreds of feet into the air. In a matter of seconds, a series of thunderous explosions—heard ten miles away in St. Paul—destroyed what had been Minneapolis' largest industrial building, and the largest mill in the world, along with several adjacent flour mills. It was the worst disaster of its type in the city's history, prompting major safety upgrades in future mill developments.

The Boom Town of Nininger

Nininger, a small town built quickly in 1856 and abandoned only a few years later, was located twenty-five miles south of St. Paul near present-day Hastings. The story of its rise and fall is typical of many of the boom towns that sprang up in places like Minnesota Territory during the mid-nineteenth century. It shows both the high hopes of the area’s newcomers and the despair they felt when their communities failed.

The Marlborough Apartment Hotel Fire, January 3, 1940

On January 3, 1940, the Marlborough Apartment Hotel in Minneapolis burst into flames after an explosion in its basement. The deadliest fire the city had ever seen would claim nineteen lives and destroy a three-story building housing more than one hundred twenty people.

The Minneapolis Skyways

In 1962, a local real estate developer named Leslie Park and architect Ed Baker built a covered walkway over Marquette Avenue in downtown Minneapolis. Park's structure would later be known as a skyway. It was the first link in a system that later spread throughout much of the city's downtown.

The Planned Community of Jonathan

The 1960s and 1970s were a time of rapid suburban growth. City planners in these decades were frustrated with the growing problems of pollution, traffic, and creating new neighborhoods as cities spread. One solution to this idea was the "new town" movement. Designed as planned communities, these "towns" tried to organize the design and growth of the town in advance to better deal with urban sprawl. The community of Jonathan, located within the existing city of Chaska, was built along these concepts.

The Relocation of Hibbing, 1919–1921

From 1919 to 1921, the people of Hibbing moved nearly two hundred structures, including several large buildings, two miles south to make way for a growing open pit mine. The Oliver Mining Company wanted the valuable iron ore underneath North Hibbing, and the company funded the use of horses, logs, farm tractors, a steam crawler (a tractor primarily used in the logging industry), steel cables, and human power to relocate the town.

The Rock Island Excursion of 1854

On February 22, 1854, the Chicago and Rock Island Railroad completed the first rail line to connect the Mississippi River to the Atlantic Ocean. To promote that feat the company contacted notable East Coast citizens and journalists and invited them to ride their train to Rock Island. From there, the visitors took a steamboat trip up the Mississippi, stopping at St. Paul. The journalists, pleased with what they saw, wrote of the beauty and splendor of a region that many in the East thought was little more than a wilderness.

The Waconia Cyclone, August 20, 1904

On August 20, 1904, a large cyclone hit the City of Waconia, changing the face of the city forever.

The Yeovil Colony

In 1873, George Rodgers led immigrants from southwest England to establish the Yeovil Colony in the Red River Valley on land purchased from the Northern Pacific Railroad. Despite high hopes, the settlement of New Yeovil crumbled soon after it began.

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