Nininger, a small town built quickly in 1856 and abandoned only a few years later, was located twenty-five miles south of St. Paul near present-day Hastings. The story of its rise and fall is typical of many of the boom towns that sprang up in places like Minnesota Territory during the mid-nineteenth century. It shows both the high hopes of the area’s newcomers and the despair they felt when their communities failed.

Goodhue County

In March 1853 Goodhue County was created by Minnesota's territorial legislature. It was formed from the original Wabasha County, which lay between the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers.

Black and white photograph of Hawkeye Mills, Hay Creek.

Hawkeye Mills, Hay Creek

Hay Creek, south of Red Wing, attracted German-speaking settlers including the founders of Hawkeye Mills. By 1870, eighty percent of Hay Creek township residents were German, the second highest concentration in Minnesota at the time.

Black and white photograph of Finnegaard pioneer home, Holden.

Finnegaard pioneer home, Holden

The rough Goodhue County first home of Norwegian settler Mikkel Finnegaard is pictured in 1934. Finnegaard settled in Holden Township in the county's southwest corner, described in 1874 as a "compact mass of Norwegians."

Black and white photograph of G.O. Miller store in Vasa.

G.O. Miller store in Vasa

G.O. Miller's first store in Vasa, the Swedish colony founded in 1853, is the building to the left. Immigrants from Sweden made Vasa the center of their Goodhue County colony. The community retains its Swedish heritage to the present day.

Immigration to Goodhue County

By 1880, Goodhue County held within its borders four significant Euro-American immigrant enclaves: Minnesota's largest group of Swedish colonists; the second largest assembly of Norwegians; one of the most densely populated German tracts; and an Irish colony at the county's center. The colonizing of Goodhue County serves as a case study of the state's early immigration patterns.


The longest continuously running festival in Minnesota history, Stiftungsfest, was founded in 1861. This German festival celebrates the music and culture of Carver County's German immigrants.

Photograph of Emile Amblard leaning on a table, holding his gloves and wearing a boutonniere. Circa 1910.

Emile Amblard

Emile Amblard, c.1910.

Amblard, Emile (1840–1914)

Emile Julien Amblard, known as the "Duke of Clearwater Lake," became one of Coney Island's leading residents. He bought his first piece of land there in 1893. The western edge of the island and a building in Waconia would become his passion for the next twenty-one years.

photograph shows Peterson in front of log house, with newer house in background

Andrew Peterson, his first log house 1856

Shows Andrew Peterson standing by the log cabin he first lived in on the farm. In the background, the later farmhouse that still stands in the 21st century is visible. Waconia, Minnesota.


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