This Day in Minnesota History

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Today's Date: May 23

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1857

Twelve counties are created. Six are named for individuals important to the state's history: Aitkin is for William A. Aitkin (also spelled Aitken), who ran an American Fur Company post on Sandy Lake; Carlton honors Reuben B. Carlton, a Fond du Lac pioneer; Jackson is for either pioneer merchant Henry Jackson (see February 11) or President Andrew Jackson; Martin is for either Connecticut investor Henry Martin, who owned land in the area, or Wisconsin territorial delegate Morgan L. Martin, who introduced legislation to create Minnesota Territory; Murray County commemorates St. Paul attorney and politician William P. Murray; Nobles is for wagon maker, road builder, and politician William H. Nobles.

1879

James J. Hill, Norman W. Kittson, and others combine several troubled railroads into the St. Paul, Minneapolis and Manitoba Railroad, totaling 560 miles of track. This railroad would become the Great Northern Railway on February 1, 1890, and would eventually be part of the Burlington Northern, later the Burlington Northern Santa Fe.

1884

Cannon Falls' first fire starts in A. Sayer's store and, despite a bucket brigade formed by the village's residents, much of the downtown is destroyed.

1908

After a ten-year campaign by the Minnesota Federation of Women's Clubs, the Minnesota National Forest (now Chippewa National Forest) is created.