Andrews, Frances (1884–1961)

Frances Andrews worked as an advocate for social justice, education, and conservation in the early twentieth century. She called for preservation of the forests and lakes that became the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and experimented with land restoration in northwestern Wisconsin. Her legacy includes an endowment that continues to support social and environmental causes in the 2010s.

Barn Bluff

Roughly ten thousand years ago, raging glacial meltwaters created the broad valley of the Upper Mississippi River that we know today. They also helped form one of the river’s most famous and significant landmarks: Barn Bluff.

Beltrami Island Project

The Beltrami Island Project was a pioneering land program of the New Deal enacted across hundreds of thousands of acres in northern Minnesota. Federal and state governments worked side by side to move residents off of poor farmland as well as to restore forest across areas of the cutover region.

Beltrami, Giacomo Costantino (1779–1855)

Born in 1779 in the Lombardy region of Italy, Giacomo Costantino Beltrami achieved fame and fortune at a young age. When political pressure and personal loss spurred him to leave home, he set out to explore the world. Today he is best known for an account of his travels through present-day Minnesota, and for his claim to have found the source of the Mississippi River.

Blue Mounds State Park

Blue Mounds State Park, named for a long, high Sioux quartzite cliff, is located in southwestern Minnesota on the Iowa and South Dakota borders. The cliff, one and one-half miles long and up to ninety feet high, appeared to be blue in color to the early Euro-American immigrants who saw it from a distance. A unique herd of bison, the largest North American mammal, makes its home in the park on 533 acres of native tall grass prairie, which escaped plowing due to poor soil quality.

Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW)

The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is located in the northern third of Superior National Forest. It is the most heavily used wilderness in the country, with about 250,000 visitors annually.

Carver County

Carver County, founded in 1855, is home to the Minnesota and Crow Rivers, along with 125 lakes. Located southwest of the Twin Cities, it is part of the seven-county metro area.

Carver, Jonathan (1710–1780)

Jonathan Carver was an explorer, mapmaker, author, and subject of controversy. He was among the first white men to explore and map areas of Minnesota, including what later became Carver County. While French explorers had been in the area earlier, they did not leave behind detailed maps or journals of their travels as Carver did.

Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve

Dr. William S. Cooper, head of the botany department at the University of Minnesota, urged a newly formed committee of the Minnesota Academy of Science to purchase part of the Anoka Sand Plain in 1937. The Cedar Creek Forest was a bit of natural Minnesota worthy of active protection from disturbance, he believed. He and others would help establish and protect what became the Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve, about thirty miles north of the Twin Cities.

Chandler–Lake Wilson Tornado, 1992

On June 16, 1992, an F5 tornado devastated the towns of Chandler and Lake Wilson in Murray County. It was the most powerful tornado recorded in the US that year and the eighth F5 to touch down in Minnesota, reaching wind speeds in excess of 260 miles per hour and causing over $50 million in property damage. It was one of 170 twisters that hit the Northern Great Plains during the June 1992 tornado outbreak, one of the largest such outbreaks in US history.

Children's Blizzard, 1888

The winter of 1887-1888 was ferocious and unrelenting. But nothing prepared southwestern Minnesota for the January storm that came to be known as the Children's Blizzard.

Civilian Conservation Corps in Minnesota, 1933–1942

The U.S. Congress paved the way for the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) when it passed the Emergency Conservation Work (ECW) Act in March 1933, at the height of the Great Depression. This New Deal program offered meaningful work to young men with few employment prospects. It resulted in a lasting legacy of forestry, soil, and water conservation, as well as enhancements to Minnesota's state and national parks.

Cloquet, Duluth, and Moose Lake Fires, 1918

The worst natural disaster in Minnesota history—over 450 dead, fifteen hundred square miles consumed, towns and villages burned flat—unfolded at a frightening pace, lasting less than fifteen hours from beginning to end. The fire began around midday on Saturday, October 12, 1918. By 3:00 a.m. on Sunday, all was over but the smoldering, the suffering, and the recovery.

Coon Rapids Hydroelectric Dam

Between 1913 and 1914 the Coon Rapids hydroelectric dam was constructed with the intent to provide power to Anoka County. The dam was shut down in 1966 after becoming too expensive to operate. It later became part of Minnesota’s environmental control program.

Creation of Itasca State Park

The Itasca forest during the late nineteenth century contained towering pines and numerous lakes. Individuals like surveyor Jacob Brower became captivated by the region and the wildlife that inhabited it. They recognized that the economic potential of northern Minnesota would change its landscape. Their effort to preserve Lake Itasca led them to contend with the lumber industry, public interests, and the politics that weaved between them.

Flooding in Carver County, 1965

In April 1965, the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers crested at record levels, flooding cities and towns across the Upper Midwest. The disaster was especially evident in Chaska and Carver, where the Minnesota River reached its highest-recorded local level on April 12. While much of the two communities was severely damaged, residents pulled together to save the new Carver County courthouse.

How The Environment Has Shaped the State

From Sustenance to Leisure on Minnesota Land

Expert Essay: Associate professor of history Michael J. Lansing, published in Environmental History as well as Ethics, Place, and Environment, highlights the many ways people have made use of Minnesota's flora and fauna over time and reviews the state's more recent efforts at conservation.

Grasshopper Plagues, 1873–1877

On June 12, 1873, farmers in southwestern Minnesota saw what looked like a snowstorm coming towards their fields from the west. What seemed to be snowflakes were in fact grasshoppers. In a matter of hours, knee-high fields of grass and wheat were eaten to the ground by hungry hoppers.

Greysolon, Daniel, Sieur du Lhut (c.1639–1710)

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.

Halloween Blizzard, 1991

On October 30, 1991, no one in Minnesota foresaw a blizzard. Local meteorologists predicted a few inches of snow. The snow began to fall in the early to mid-afternoon of October 31—Halloween Day— and fell steadily for almost three days. When it stopped, snow measured over thirty inches in the eastern part of Minnesota, from Duluth to Dodge Center, breaking a record set in 1882.

Hennepin, Louis (ca.1640–ca.1701)

Father Louis Hennepin, a Recollect friar, is best known as an early European explorer of Minnesota. He gained fame in the seventeenth century with the publication of his dramatic stories of the exploration of the Mississippi River. Although Father Hennepin spent only a few months in Minnesota, his influence is undeniable. While his widely read travel accounts were more fiction than fact, they allowed him to leave a lasting mark on the state.

Joseph Réaume's Trading Post

Wadena County contains three known fur trade sites. One is located on private property along the Leaf River where Joseph Réaume, an independent fur trader, set up a winter camp in the late eighteenth century. Between 2011 and 2012, the University of Minnesota conducted archaeological surveys and excavations at this location. They confirmed a late-eighteenth century occupation, validating its association with Réaume's 1792 wintering activities.

Lake Superior Zoo (Duluth Zoo)

Since its opening in 1923, the Lake Superior Zoo has evolved into a modern attraction accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) with hundreds of animals from around the world. Zoo staff work to provide close-up animal experiences that inspire connections to wildlife and action towards conservation in northern Minnesota and around the world.

Lake Vermilion–Soudan Underground Mine State Park

The Lake Vermilion–Soudan Underground Mine State Park occupies over four thousand acres in the far northeast corner of Minnesota. The site contains a historic underground iron mine as well as the fifth largest lake in Minnesota and its surrounding habitat.

Lake Winnibigoshish, Leech Lake, and Pokegama Falls Dams

Winnibigoshish, Leech Lake, and Pokegama Falls Dams were built in the Mississippi Headwaters during the late 19th century. These structures preceded the construction of the Headwaters reservoir system and played key roles in flood prevention and river control during the 20th century.

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