In this Collections Up Close video podcast, Minnesota Historical Society collections assistant Christopher Welter shares a few of the thousands of State Fair photographs in the MHS collection, with a special emphasis on the fair’s more spectacular offerings.
Early generations of Minnesotans lived with the ever-present danger of fire. Many city histories tell of blazes that destroyed whole sections of their communities, but in most cases arson was not the cause. The Red Wing Mills complex, however, was almost certainly burned deliberately by an unknown arsonist.
Red Wing Iron Works, c.1890. Frances Densmore’s father Benjamin and his brother Daniel started Red Wing Iron Works in 1866. Its financial success allowed the family to support her studies at Oberlin Conservatory of Music.
A Milwaukee Road train pulls up to G.A. Carlson's limestone kiln, still in existence today, on the Mississippi River side of Barn Bluff, c. 1895. Red Wing became known as Minnesota's "Lime Center" in the 1870s as local quarrying firms and their kilns reduced limestone to lime.
Red Wing's leading quarry owner G.A. Carlson built this 1882 Barn Bluff limestone kiln near the Milwaukee Road's tracks. He wished to facilitate shipments of lime and cement. The kiln, pictured about 1885, still exists.
Thanks to the limestone bluffs and hills that surrounded Red Wing, the town became a Minnesota lime-making and stone quarrying center from 1870 to 1910. Those forty years are sometimes known as the city’s “Stone Age.”