The Mississippi River Reservoir Dam System

The Headwaters Dams were built between 1881 and 1912 in the Mississippi headwaters. The dams served to regulate river flow and assist navigation until 1938, when they were relegated to a flood control role.

The Near-Lynching of Houston Osborne, 1895

In the early morning of June 2, 1895, Houston Osborne, a young African American man, broke into Frieda Kachel's bedroom in her St. Paul home. When Kachel screamed, Osborne ran; he was caught and hanged from a cottonwood tree but let down before he died. He died in prison eighteen months later.

The Nonpartisan League

Exploited by powerful corporate and political interests in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Midwestern farmers banded together in the early twentieth century to fight for their political and economic rights. Farmers formed the Nonpartisan League (NPL) and wrote a significant chapter of Minnesota Progressive Era history.

The Northwest Angle

Minnesota's Northwest Angle in Lake of the Woods is farther north than any other part of the contiguous United States. Logically, it would seem that this area of about 123 square miles should be in Canada. But this oddest feature of the entire U.S.–Canada boundary was the proper result of American treaties negotiated with Great Britain.

The Opening of the Mesabi Iron Range

In the 1880s, several members of the Lewis H. Merritt family discovered hematite on the Mesabi Range. This led to industrial development in northeastern Minnesota and the growth of the Lake Superior iron industry.

The Origins of the School Safety Patrol, 1921

The school safety patrol was first implemented in 1921, one of the earliest in the country. Parents, principals, and politicians in St. Paul were at the forefront of its development. At that time, walking to and from school had become dangerous because there were more cars on the road and few safety guidelines. Children often took risks when crossing streets, and placing other children at intersections to direct traffic was a key innovation that reduced accidents.

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 Smallpox Epidemic of 1924–1925

Minnesota's worst known encounter with smallpox came in 1924 and 1925. Five hundred people died—four hundred of them in the Twin Cities. Almost 90 percent of the Twin Cities deaths took place in Minneapolis.

The Starvation Experiment of Dr. Ancel Keys, 1944–1945

From November 1944 to late October 1945, Dr. Ancel Keys paid close attention to hunger. He supervised thirty-six young male volunteers in a "starvation experiment," funded by the U.S. Army. This landmark effort at the University of Minnesota led to broad new understandings of nutrition and health.

The Swany White Flour Mill

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.

The Sybil Carter Indian Lace Association

When Sybil Carter started her first lace-making classes at the White Earth Reservation, she set the stage for a major economic enterprise. In 1904, friends of Carter organized the Sybil Carter Indian Lace Association to help ship and market lace made by women on reservations to East Coast consumers. The association provided a good source of income to Indian women. However, the association also held negative views of Indian women and excluded them from leadership roles.

The Thirteenth Minnesota and the Battle for Manila

On August 13, 1898, the Thirteenth Minnesota Infantry regiment led an American advance against Spanish forces holding the Philippine city of Manila. Their participation was crucial to the outcome of this important Spanish-American War battle.

The Timber Culture Act of 1873

When Congress enacted the Timber Culture Act of 1873, many hoped that giving settlers deed to public lands in return for growing trees would reshape the environment of the West. However, legal loopholes meant that most of the tree claims filed under the Timber Culture Act were never planted with trees. Fraudulent claims and wild speculation meant that the act was repealed less than twenty years after it was enacted.

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 Willmar 8 Bank Strike

For nearly two years, eight female employees of Willmar's Citizens National Bank, dubbed the Willmar 8, picketed in front of their downtown workplace seeking pay equity. They never got pay increases, they never got strike-related compensation, and after the strike, only one woman returned to work at the bank for more than a few months. But for the women's movement, the 1977-1979 strike was a resounding success. It was a chink in the armor of the institutional sexism women faced in the workplace.

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.

Third Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment

The Third Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment's record of service varied greatly. The regiment endured a controversial surrender in Tennessee, played a decisive role in the climactic battle of the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862, and helped win Union control of the vital Mississippi River.

How Architecture Has Shaped the State

Three Thousand Years of Building in Minnesota

Expert Essay: Architectural historian Larry Millett, author of Lost Twin Cities and numerous other books, offers a colorful tour of notable Minnesota buildings and building styles, from American Indian burial mounds to Beaux Arts monuments and suburban big boxes.

Tifereth B'nai Jacob Congregation, Minneapolis

One of nearly a dozen early Orthodox Jewish congregations in North Minneapolis, Tifereth B'nai Jacob was founded by immigrants from Bessarabia. The congregation served the community for seventy years before merging with other synagogues and moving to St. Louis Park.

Timber Worker Strikes, 1937

Spurred by a national labor movement and eight years of economic depression, Minnesota timber workers led several strikes in 1937. Their peaceful strikes were successful, winning union recognition, higher wages, and better living conditions.

How Religion Has Shaped the State

Tradition, Schism, and Continuity in Minnesota’s Communities of Faith

Expert Essay: Doug Rossinow, Professor of History at Metropolitan State University, discusses the faith-based traditions, leaders, and organizations that have shaped the history of religion in Minnesota.

Traveling Libraries

Before 1899, few Minnesotans had access to free public libraries. But in that year, the state legislature began funding a system of traveling libraries that were sent to underserved communities in all parts of the state for only the cost of shipping.

Treaty of Mendota

The Treaty of Mendota was signed between the Mdewakanton and Wahpekute bands of the Dakota and the United States Government in 1851. By signing this treaty and the Treaty of Traverse des Sioux the same year, the Dakota transferred ownership of their lands to the United States. The Treaties of 1851 opened millions of acres to white settlement. For the Dakota, the treaties represented a step towards the loss of their homeland, and the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862.

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