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Minnesota History: 8 Events That Shaped the State

Minnesota History: 8 Events That Shaped the State
Grand Portage State Park in Minnesota. 120 foot waterfall on the Pigeon River is highest in Minnesota. (wikimedia/commons)

By    |   Monday, 23 February 2015 11:32 PM

Minnesota is the land of many lakes and various points of purchase. The state's northern weather and access to the Great Lakes made it an early and important player in the fur trade. That early consumer history was a precursor to the more modern Minnesota story.

Here are eight Minnesota history moments of note:

1. The Grand Portage: Early fur traders used canoes and lake routes to get fur pellets out of Canada. The land that would become Minnesota was first one of the largest British fur trading posts in the 1700s. The Ojibwe people joined with the North West Company of the North American fur trade to create a portage trail for these goods to the open waters of Lake Superior.

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2. Fort Snelling: In an effort to protect territorial lands, the U.S. government built an outpost at Fort Snelling. The fort, an 1820s structure was at the junction of the Minnesota and Mississippi river. It became important in the 1862 U.S. — Dakota War.

3. U.S. – Dakota War: While the rest of the country was engaged in battle over slavery, this six-week fight was a different kind of Civil War. The Birch Coulee battle site and Fort Snelling mark two places where the Dakota fought to maintain rights over their homeland. It started with attacks on U.S. settlements by young Dakota fighters and ended with the execution of 38 Dakota men. Hundreds of settlers and Native Americans died in the conflict. The Dakota were expelled from Minnesota in the aftermath of the war.

4. Split Rock Lighthouse: Bad weather in 1905 on Lake Superior took out 29 ships in one storm. That disaster led to the construction of the Split Rock Lighthouse along the Minnesota shore. The lighthouse was completed in 1910 and became a beacon that not only enabled safe passage and trade in the area, but also became a well-known landmark in the state.

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5. Mayo Clinic Founded: Dr. William Worrall Mayo and his two sons changed Minnesota history and the history of medicine in this country. They immigrated to Minnesota in 1846. The medical practice Mayo set up in Rochester during the Civil War evolved in the years after the war to include a unique team approach to the practice of medicine that continues in the hospital that carries his name today.

Vegetable Innovation: In 1874, Carson Nesbit Cosgrove and his family moved into the house that had been owned by Dr. W. W. Mayo. In 1903, Cosgrove would become head of the Minnesota Valley Canning Company. The company capitalized on early canning technology and picked a mascot for a brand of peas it sold and called it the "Green Giant." That Green Giant became an international icon.

7. Sears: Long before the lifetime warranty on tools, a man named Richard W. Sears got into sales and earned a place in Minnesota history. In 1886, Sears started to sell watches in North Redwood. He produced his first Sears catalog two years later.

8. Shopping in comfort: The first shopping mall in the United States opened in Edina in 1956. The Southdale Shopping Center, which included 72 stores and two major department store anchors, changed the way America shops. The Mall of America opened in 1992 and it generates almost $2 billion in economic impact for Minnesota each year and has become a tourist destination.

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Minnesota is the land of many lakes and various attractions families looking for a staycation can appreciate. The state's northern weather and access to the Great Lakes made it an early and important player in the fur trade.
Minnesota History, Mall of America, Split Rock Lighthouse
Monday, 23 February 2015 11:32 PM
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