How Agriculture Has Shaped the State

Land, Labor, the Market, and Politics

Expert Essay: Associate professor of history Jeff Kolnick looks at agriculture through several lenses and offers his view on its overall impact on Minnesota, past and present.

Ignatius Donnelly

Ignatius Donnelly 1888

Ignatius Donnelly, 1888. Photographer: Sarony. Donnelly managed membership recruitment for the Farmers' Alliance starting in 1889

S.M. Owen - The People's Candidate for Governor of Minnesota

S.M. Owen - The People's Candidate for Governor of Minnesota

Political poster depicting Sidney M. Owen, the Farmers' Alliance candidate for governor, 1890

Farmers' Alliance in Minnesota

The Farmers' Alliance in Minnesota thrived from 1886 to 1892. During this time, the organization achieved the most progress toward its political goals in the state. These included greater regulation of the railroad industry as it impacted the wheat market, elimination of irregularities in the grading of wheat, and minimization or elimination of the middleman in the wheat trade.

Stone Arch Bridge, St. Anthony Falls and milling district, Minneapolis

Stone Arch Bridge, St. Anthony Falls and milling district, Minneapolis

Postcard showing Stone Arch Bridge, St. Anthony Falls, and the milling district, c.1900.

Wealthy Apple

The Wealthy apple was the earliest apple to thrive in the Minnesota climate. Horticulturalist Peter Gideon grew it first in 1868, after years of trial and error with various apple varieties.

Peter M. Gideon and the Wealthy Apple historic marker

Peter M. Gideon and the Wealthy Apple historic marker

Peter M. Gideon and the Wealthy Apple historic marker, Shorewood, 1972. Photographer: Alan Ominsky.

Tablet to Peter M. Gideon

Tablet to Peter M. Gideon

Tablet to Peter M. Gideon, one-half mile north of Highway 7, Shorewood, 1936. Photographer: A.F. Raymond.

Peter M. Gideon

Peter M. Gideon

Peter M. Gideon, creator of Minnesota's wealthy apple, c.1890.

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