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This Day in Minnesota History

January 12, 1889

DeWitt Wallace is born in St. Paul. Wallace would found Reader's Digest in 1922, and his family's fortune has benefited many educational and performing arts associations.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 12, 1892

The first car of iron ore travels from Mountain Iron to Duluth and assays at 65 percent iron. Minnesota would lead the country in iron ore production for many years, and iron, in the form of taconite, is still a major export.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 12, 1892

Walter "Pudge" Heffelfinger becomes the first professional football player in history. The Minneapolis native signs to play with the Allegheny Athletic Association and is paid $500 for his role in the 4-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Athletic Club.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 12, 1895

Minnesota is the first state to declare Abraham Lincoln's birthday a legal holiday.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 12, 1905

Visiting the Twin Cities for the dedication of the new capitol, William Colvill dies in his sleep at the Old Soldier's Home in Minneapolis the night before the ceremony, at which he was to carry the battle flag of his regiment. Born in New York in 1830, Colonel Colvill had led the First Minnesota's famous charge at Gettysburg (see July 2). After the war, the Red Wing resident served as state attorney general.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 12, 1908

Harry A. Blackmun is born in Nashville, Illinois. He would spend his early years in St. Paul and return to the area after earning a degree from Harvard Law School. President Richard Nixon would appoint him to the U.S. Supreme Court on April 14, 1970. Blackmun will be remembered for authoring the controversial 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade , which made abortion legal in the United States, and for retracting his support for the death penalty in 1994 by writing "I shall no longer tinker with the machinery of death." He died March 4, 1999.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 12, 1913

Alexander T. Heine flies the first airplane over Minneapolis.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 12, 1914

The last commercially cut logs pass through Stillwater's boom on the St. Croix, marking the end of large-scale logging in the St. Croix valley. The boom was a chain of logs stretching across the river. Logs floated from upstream, each carrying their owner's brand, were sorted and measured so that each logging company got credit for what they had cut.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 12, 1923

St. Paul's first automatic traffic signal, on a pedestal about ten feet high, begins operating at Fifth and St. Peter Streets.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 12, 1928

The newly finished Foshay Tower, which would be Minneapolis's tallest building for nearly fifty years, is strung with lights and lit up like a Christmas tree.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 12, 1931

With a parade and elaborate ceremonies, a bronze statue of Christopher Columbus is dedicated on the state capitol grounds. Sculpted by St. Paul native Carlo Brioschi, the statue was sponsored by the Minnesota State Federation of Italian American Clubs.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 12, 1937

Dennis J. Banks is born on Leech Lake Indian Reservation. An Indian activist, he would be one of the founders of the American Indian Movement (AIM) in 1968, along with Clyde and Vernon Bellecourt (from White Earth Reservation) and George Mitchell. Intent on raising awareness of the plight of Indians, the members of AIM would participate in the occupation of Alcatraz Island in San Francisco, Wounded Knee in South Dakota, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs headquarters in Washington, D.C.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 12, 1939

More than 3,000 people (two-thirds of them children) escape death or serious injury when they rush out of the Amphitheatre in Duluth seconds before the steel-and-wood roof of the expansive sports arena collapses under the weight of snow during an intermission in the annual Duluth police department and Virginia (Minn.) fire department hockey game.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 12, 1940

A tractor truck made by the Minneapolis-Moline Power Implement Company receives nationwide attention during army battle maneuvers at Camp Ripley. Soldiers would call it the "jeep."

This Day in Minnesota History

January 12, 1945

Columbus Day becomes a state holiday.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 12, 1946

The Minnesota Historical Society accepts a grant from the Weyerhaeuser family to establish the Forest Products History Foundation. Initially located in St. Paul, the foundation evolves into the international organization known as the Forest History Society. Now located in Durham, North Carolina, the society's mission remains the same: to preserve and interpret the documents of forest and conservation history.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 12, 1976

A two-month strike by members of the Graphic Arts International Union is settled when several hundred bookbinders and four Twin Cities-area envelope companies reach an accord about a new two-year contract that provides hourly pay increases of 45 cents the first year and 50 cents the second year; the strikers had settled earlier with a fifth company.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 12, 1977

Steve Carter's Eden is the first documented performance at the Penumbra Theatre in St. Paul. Founded in 1976 by Lou Bellamy, the nationally acclaimed theater won a Jujamcyn Award in 1999 and is known for producing all of the works of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 12, 1981

International Business Machines (IBM) introduces the first personal computer, which the company's plant in Rochester had helped design.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 12, 1983

The first WeFest takes place in Detroit Lakes, featuring performers Alabama, Merle Haggard, Tammy Wynette, Jerry Lee Lewis, and others. The biggest country music and camping festival in the nation, it attracts tens of thousands of country music enthusiasts annually.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 12, 1984

Harmon Killebrew is the first Twin inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. He blasted 573 home runs over the course of his career.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 12, 1988

Famed restaurateur Gim Joe Huie dies in Duluth. Born in Guangdong province, China, in 1892, Huie first came to the city in 1909 and made it his American home while returning to the land of his birth for extended stays until the Communist government established control there in the late 1940s. In 1951 he opened Joe Huie's Cafe, on Lake Avenue in Duluth, which for twenty-two years offered authentic Asian food at reasonable prices in a companionable atmosphere.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 12, 1997

Marcelina Anaya Vasquez, founder in 1970 of the Migrant Tutorial program, dies. Working in St. Paul's west side, Vasquez trained bilingual tutors to assist migrant children with their English reading and writing skills. The St. Paul school district had taken over her successful program in 1978.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 12, 2000

Cartoonist Charles M. Schulz dies in California. That summer, in St. Paul, his childhood home, 101 individually decorated, five-foot-tall statues of Snoopy are displayed in a celebration of Schulz's life. Later in the year, two auctions of Snoopy statues (including some from the celebration and some made specially for auction) are held with the announcement that the money raised will be used as memorial funds to create a bronze sculpture of Schulz characters for downtown St. Paul, as well as to benefit the College of Visual Arts in St.

This Day in Minnesota History

January 13, 1787

Congress passes the Northwest Ordinance. Authored by Thomas Jefferson, it set up the rules of government for the Northwest Territory of the United States, which included present-day Minnesota east of the Mississippi River. Slavery was outlawed, the land was to be surveyed into townships, and each township was to set aside land for a school. In addition, the ordinance stated that "the utmost good faith shall always be observed toward the Indians, their land and property."

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