Often, the first structure built by Finnish immigrants to Minnesota was a sauna. That was the case with the Barberg-Selvälä-Salmonson sauna in Cokato—the oldest savusauna, or smoke sauna, still existing in Minnesota and likely in the United States.
The US Congress ordered the beginning of mail service from Superior to Grand Portage, Minnesota, in 1855, but service was spotty. John Beargrease and his brothers came to the rescue. They began covering a regular mail route between Two Harbors and Grand Marais in 1879.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame credits Charles Albert Bender with inventing the slider, a curveball with extra speed. Like his patented pitch, Bender's life course was a circuitous one, beginning on the White Earth Reservation in northern Minnesota.
In the 1890s, after bicycles became more comfortable and affordable, bicycling swept the nation, Minnesota included. Minnesotans who embraced bicycling at this time helped lay the groundwork for a number of lasting changes in American society, from shorter skirts to better roads.
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.
The history of Coney Island as a resort begins when Josephine Hassenstab sold the 31.85-acre island to Lambert Naegele in March, 1884, for $5,200. While Waconia already had several hotels such as the North Star, Lake House, and the Sherman House, the Coney Island Hotel and its resort became the most popular of all of Waconia's hotels and contributed to the town's status as a favorite summer resort.
Sired by a champion pacer and born in 1896, Dan Patch was bred to be a racehorse. At first glance, though, his chances didn't look too good. He had long legs, knobby knees, and worst of all, a sweet disposition—not considered an asset in the hypercompetitive world of harness racing.
As enthusiasm for professional sports grew in Minnesota during the mid-twentieth century, Metropolitan Stadium, designed for baseball, became too small and had too few amenities to continue to attract professional teams. By the early 1970s, Minnesota's teams, seeking greater profits, began to demand a bigger and better venue. The Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome ("The Dome"), a covered, multi-purpose stadium built in downtown Minneapolis, served this purpose for thirty-one years.
The Interstate State Park, located on 295 acres in Taylors Falls, is the second-oldest state park in Minnesota. Created in 1895, its unique topography and geological history draw many visitors to the area. It is the first park in the United States to be located in two states, Minnesota and Wisconsin, with the St. Croix River serving as the border. The two parks are operated separately by the states’ Departments of Natural Resources.
From early inns and boarding houses to the magnificent eight-hundred-room Hotel Lafayette, during the last decades of the nineteenth century, Lake Minnetonka was transformed into one of the resort capitals of America. In the 1870s and 1880s, tourists from across the nation came to stay at the resort hotels that prospered on the shores of one of Minnesota's most famous lakes.
Located near Hibbing, Mesaba Co-op Park is one of the few remaining continuously operated cooperative parks in the country. A gathering place of the Finnish cooperative movement, the park served the ethnic political radicals who energized the Iron Range labor movement and Minnesota’s Farmer-Labor party.
When local enthusiasts wanted to lure major league sports to Minnesota in the 1950s, they made plans to build an outdoor stadium in the cornfields of Bloomington. Metropolitan Stadium—"the Met"— hosted Minnesota's professional baseball, football, and soccer teams until the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome replaced it in 1981.
The Minnesota State Fair is a yearly celebration of agriculture, crafts, food, and community. In the twenty-first century, nearly 1.8 million people attend the twelve-day event every year, making it the second-largest state fair in the nation. The gathering is a Minnesota tradition that has more than earned its nickname, "The Great Minnesota Get-Together."
The Miracle on Ice is the name given to the American men’s ice hockey victory over the heavily favored Soviet Union at the 1980 Winter Olympics. The team drew heavily on Minnesotan talent, including twelve players and coach Herb Brooks. Coming amid American setbacks in the Cold War, their unlikely win inspired and united the country.
Parade Stadium was Minneapolis's first public football stadium. The Minneapolis park board built the 16,560-seat stadium at The Parade, a park just west of downtown, in 1951. It was meant for high school, amateur, and small-college games. The stadium was also used for summertime Aquatennial festivities for nearly forty years.
Kirby Puckett played twelve seasons as a center fielder for the Minnesota Twins. Known for both his playing skills and his spirit, “Puck” played a major role in rejuvenating the team and leading them to World Series victories in 1987 and 1991. Although his career was cut short by eye problems, he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2001.
At its centennial in 2012, the St. Paul Curling Club was the largest curling club in the United States, with over 1200 members. Club members have competed in national and international competitions, including the Olympics. Despite ebb and flow in its popularity over the years, the club has long been a place to play and promote the sport of curling in the Twin Cities.
When Czech and Slovak immigrants moved to Minnesota in the late nineteenth century, they carried with them the idea of a Sokol—a social, cultural, and gymnastics society that combined physical and mental education. The St. Paul Sokol has served as a community center for more than one hundred years.
Marcenia Lyle (Toni "Tomboy") Stone broke both gender and racial barriers by becoming the first female professional baseball player in the Negro Major League. During her career, she played with a variety of men's teams before making history when she joined the Indianapolis Clowns, a Negro Major League Team.
Strauss Ice Skates were made by hand at Strauss Skate Shop in St. Paul for almost 100 years. They were popular with professional and amateur skaters in the United States and other countries because of their consistent high quality, which was achieved through a secret hardening process.
On the shores of White Bear Lake, Wildwood Amusement Park offered a dance pavilion, swimming, fishing, boating, picnic areas, amusement park rides, and carnival games. For only the cost of the streetcar fare, Twin Cities' residents could spend summer days at this park owned and operated by the Twin Cities Rapid Transit Corporation.
Only open for seven seasons, Wonderland Amusement Park brought thrills and sights from Coney Island to Minneapolis. With a roller coaster, fun house, shoot-the-chutes, miniature railroads for kids, a 120-foot lighted tower, and a display of premature babies in incubators, Wonderland drew crowds from all over Minnesota.
The 1987 World Series put the Minnesota Twins on the national map for the first time since their 1970 Western Division title. The Twins met the National League champion St. Louis Cardinals in what was called both the "Riverboat Series" (after the fact that both cities were connected by the Mississippi River) and the "Cinderella Series" (both clubs were considered underdogs in their respective leagues). The Twins went on to win the series, four games to three.