This Week in History

This Week in History: North Star State from 1858


May 11th marks the 151st birthday of the great state of Minnesota. The second northernmost state in the Union (with Alaska rather obviously taking the title on that one), the land of “somewhat clouded water” has quite a bit to offer residents and visitors alike.

Let’s start with some quick facts about Minnesota.

  • Hibbing, Minnesota is home to the bus industry in America, specifically the line that would become Greyhound Bus.
  • Both the Milky Way and 3 Musketeers candy bars were introduced in Minnesota.
  • Other things in Minnesota: the world’s largest ball of twine (in Darwin), the stapler, Rollerblades, the first children’s department in a library (Minneapolis Public Library), the Mayo Clinic, the world’s largest pelican, and the world’s largest urban sculpture garden.
  • Minnesota has the most recreational boats per person of any state in the nation and the most golf courses per capita.
  • Minnesota, with 90,000 miles of it, has more shoreline than California, Florida, and Hawaii combined.

Speaking of shoreline, you might have heard that Minnesota is the “Land of 10,000 Lakes.” Well, there are quite a bit more than 10,000 – the exact number I will leave for other people to debate – and a fair number of museums that touch on the state’s watery abundance. The Official Minnesota Fishing Museum and Education Center in Little Falls, the North Shore Commercial Fishing Museum in Tofte, the Minnesota Marine Art Museum in Winona, the Lake Superior Marine Museum Association and the Great Lakes Aquarium in Duluth are just a few. Lakes are not the only liquid attraction in the North Star State. The headwaters of the Mississippi River can be found in Lake Itasca, a noteworthy monument that you should probably visit in the summertime.

How about famous people? Minnesota is the birthplace of an impressive list of celebrities, industrialists, authors, musicians, and politicians.  Bob Dylan, Prince, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Judy Garland, Hubert H. Humphrey, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Garrison Keiller, Craig Kilborn, Jessica Lange, Winona Ryder, Josh Hartnett, the Coen Brothers, J. Paul Getty, Sinclair Lewis, Roger Maris, Walter Mondall, Jane Russell, John J. Hill, and Charles Schulz all hail from the Gopher State. Throughout the state you may stumble upon small museums erected in their birthplace or dedicated to their accomplishments (see the Judy Garland house in Grand Rapids or the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in Walnut Grove.)

Looking for a little history about the state as a whole?  Start with the Minnesota Historical Society, which is currently hosting a cartography exhibit entitled Minnesota on the Map as well as the MN150 exhibit exploring 150 things that make Minnesota the way it is. Most counties in Minnesota have historical societies of their own. Visit the Minnesota Association of Museums’ website for a complete listing of these institutions.

Here are a few other museums of note to check out if you find yourself Minnesota-bound:

4 Responses to “This Week in History: North Star State from 1858”

  1. Kristen on May 11th, 2009

    Very nice round up!

  2. Dave Blodgett on May 11th, 2009

    You forgot Bruce Smith, Heisman Trophy Winner

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