Color image of the Helen Allison Savanna Scientific and Natural Area, Anoka County, ca. 2010.

Oak savanna landscape

Helen Allison Savanna Scientific and Natural Area, Anoka County, ca. 2010. Used with the permission of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Oak savanna

Oak savannas—open grassland studded by tall, spreading oak trees—once covered 10 percent of Minnesota, mostly in the southeast quarter of the state. They are an attractive ecosystem for animals such as deer, turkeys, and red-headed woodpeckers. Before European immigration, indigenous people valued the savannas for the good hunting they provided, fostering and maintaining them through the regular use of fire. In 2017, only about 1 percent of the savannas that existed 200 years ago remains.

Origins of the University of Minnesota Extension Service

The Agricultural Extension Service of the United States (AES) began as an educational component of land-grant universities. In Minnesota as in other states, the federally funded and organized services of AES provide practical agricultural training to people outside of a university setting.

State Capitol Fire, 1881

As Minnesota state legislators met on the evening of March 1, 1881, two days before the end of their twenty-second session, two pages alerted them to a fire in the building. Quick action by lawmakers and nearby residents saved important documents, furnishings, and historical collections. The fire took no lives but destroyed Minnesota's first capitol building.

Black and white photograph of legislators (including Allan Spear, far right) tour the Minnesota Zoological Garden, 1980.

Legislators (including Allan Spear, far right) tour the Minnesota Zoological Garden

Legislators (including Allan Spear, far right) tour the Minnesota Zoological Garden, 1980.

Watercolor painting of Lake Minnetonka as it appeared when Joseph Israel Lobdell guarded a claim there in late 1856. By Edwin Whitefield, ca. 1856–1859.

Cabin on Lake Minnetonka

Watercolor painting of a cabin on Lake Minnetonka as it appeared when Joseph Israel Lobdell guarded a claim there. By Edwin Whitefield, ca. 1856–1859.

Black and white photograph of the first mine on the Mesabi Range, near Mountain Iron, ca. 1892. Photographed by Louis Perry Gallagher.

First mine on the Mesabi Range, near Mountain Iron

First mine on the Mesabi Range, near Mountain Iron, ca. 1892. Photographed by Louis Perry Gallagher.

Black and white photograph of Mesabi Mountain open pit mine in Franklin, 1936. Photographed by Thor L. Nielsen.

Mesabi Mountain open pit mine in Franklin

Mesabi Mountain open pit mine in Franklin, 1936. Photographed by Thor L. Nielsen.

Black and white photograph of an Ojibwe family in canoe on Lake Vermilion, ca. 1905.

Ojibwe family in canoe on Lake Vermilion

Ojibwe family in canoe on Lake Vermilion, ca. 1905.

Minnesota Public School Fund

In 1854, the United States took the mineral-rich lands of northeastern Minnesota Territory from the Ojibwe Nation after the signing of the Treaty of La Pointe. Four years later, it granted to the new state of Minnesota sections 16 and 36 of every one of its townships, either to be held in trust or leased to support state schools. Close to three million acres were dedicated to a public school trust fund, and the iron ore and forest lands of the Ojibwe generated over 85 percent of its value. In 2017, it is worth over a billion dollars.

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