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 Carver County Fair has a long and rich history, dating back to 1868. On July 20, the Carver County Agricultural Society formed in Chaska. Later that year, on October 10, this group held the first Carver County fair in Chaska, to display their crops and animals. An elected Board of Directors planned the fair. Despite later battles over location, the fair has been held almost every year since.
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.
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.
The conservatory at Como Park in St. Paul, which opened on November 7, 1915, is a well-maintained example of a Victorian greenhouse. While many similar “crystal palaces” have been torn down, St. Paul’s conservatory has remained a center for horticulture, recreation, and education for over a century.
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 Minnesota Vikings professional football club has competed in the National Football League (NFL) since 1961. The team ranks amongst the most successful franchises in the NFL, with seventeen divisional titles since 1970. They have reached the playoffs in twenty-eight of their fifty-six seasons and made four Super Bowl appearances. Eleven former players, one coach, and one general manager from the Vikings have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, in Canton, Ohio.
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.
The first Murray County Fair was held in 1880. From 1884 through 1898 there were rival fairs, one in Currie and one in Slayton. Each claimed to be the official county fair, but both were discontinued at the turn of the century. In 1912 the Murray County Fair returned and has been held annually (with two exceptions) since that year.
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.