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.
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.
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.
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.
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 American Indian women. However, the association also held negative views of American Indian women and excluded them from leadership roles.
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.
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 Fraudulent claims and wild speculation meant that the act was repealed less than twenty years after it was enacted.
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.
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.
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.
James Thompson was born into a life of slavery in Virginia around 1799. He overcame the hardships of that life to work as a capable English-Dakota interpreter for Methodist missionary Alfred Brunson. After winning his freedom in the 1830s he became a respected citizen of the city of St. Paul known for his accomplishments more than his skin color.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The second Treaty of La Pointe (1854) ceded most Ojibwe land on the northern and western shores of Lake Superior to the U.S. government. It also established the Grand Portage and Fond du Lac reservations. In exchange, the Ojibwe received annual payments and a guarantee that they could continue to hunt and fish throughout this territory.
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.
The Treaty of Traverse des Sioux of 1851 is an agreement between the Sisseton and Wahpeton bands of Dakota and the U.S. government. It transferred ownership of much of southern and western Minnesota from the Dakota to the United States. The treaty is significant in Minnesota's history because, along with similar treaties signed that same year, it opened twenty-four million acres of land to immigration. For the Dakota, these treaties marked another step in the process that saw them increasingly marginalized in and dismissed from land that was their home.
After the discovery of taconite in the late nineteenth century, scientists struggled to find ways to extract iron ore from this sedimentary rock, which contains 25 to 30 percent iron. The process that was eventually developed involves crushing the hard rock into a powder-like consistency. The iron ore is then removed with magnets and turned into pellets.
The Universal Laboratories building played a key role during World War II by ensuring that the United States had an adequate domestic supply of the essential crude drug ergot. As war threatened to cut off imported supplies of crude ergot, Universal Laboratories developed an effective collecting and processing operation in Dassel.
The University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is the state's largest, most diverse and complete horticultural site. The grounds have more than five thousand types of plants, including fruits, vegetables, bushes and flowers. Located about twenty miles west of the Twin Cities, it is a significant horticultural resource.
John Vachon traveled the world as a professional photographer, but the St. Paul native's work was always shaped by his Midwestern upbringing. He is most remembered for his photographs for the Farm Security Administration (FSA) and Look magazine.