How The Environment Has Shaped the State

From Sustenance to Leisure on Minnesota Land

Expert Essay: Associate professor of history Michael J. Lansing, published in Environmental History as well as Ethics, Place, and Environment, highlights the many ways people have made use of Minnesota's flora and fauna over time and reviews the state's more recent efforts at conservation.

View of Wita Tanka (Pike Island) and Fort Snelling from Mendota

View of Wita Tanka (Pike Island) and Fort Snelling from Mendota

View of Wita Tanka (Pike Island) and Fort Snelling from Mendota. Painting by Edward Kirkbride Thomas, ca. 1850.

Two women with bicycles near Mni Owe Sni (Coldwater Spring)

Two women with bicycles near Mni Owe Sni (Coldwater Spring)

Two women with bicycles near Mni Owe Sni (Coldwater Spring), 1899.

Cover of a tourism brochure

Cover of a tourism brochure

Cover of a tourism brochure (Minnesota’s Ten Thousand Lakes: the Nation’s Summer Playground), 1918. A tourism organization printed 20,000 of these informational brochures to send to people who made inquiries after seeing newspaper or magazine ads. Forms part of “Pamphlets relating to lakes in Minnesota, 1900–” (F604.3), pamphlets collection, Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul.

Resort signs along a northern Minnesota road

Resort signs along a northern Minnesota road

Resort signs along a northern Minnesota road, ca. 1930.

Canoers completing a portage in the Superior National Forest

Canoers completing a portage in the Superior National Forest

Canoers completing a portage in the Superior National Forest, ca. 1930.

Map of canoe routes in the Minnesota-Ontario lake region

Map of canoe routes in the Minnesota-Ontario lake region

Map of canoe routes in the Minnesota-Ontario lake region, including those in the Quetico Reserve and the Superior National Forest. Published in Duluth by the Architects and Engineers Supply Company, ca. 1928.

Map showing the location of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness

Map showing the location of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness

Map showing the location of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness as well as the Superior National Forest, Voyageurs National Park, and Quetico National Park. Created by Wikimedia Commons user Kmusser, February 10, 2009. CC BY-SA 3.0

Overhead view of Victory Memorial Drive

Overhead view of Victory Memorial Drive

Overhead view Victory Memorial Drive and Parkway in North Minneapolis. View looking west from Humboldt Avenue North, near the northeast end of the parkway. Photo by Flickr user Tony Webster, February 18, 2017. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Victory Memorial Drive

Victory Memorial Drive

Rows of memorial elm trees lining the northbound lane of Victory Memorial Drive, 1945. Bronze crosses are visible in front of the trees on the right side of the roadway. Crosses and Stars of David were embedded in concrete in 1953.

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