Big Challenges for Small Dairy: Minnesota farmers seek creative solutions in the face of corporate competition

When I first rang Tom Portner to talk about his dairy farm Port-Haven, he told me to call back in a few minutes—he was in the middle of helping a cow give birth. The third in 24 hours, in fact. “Yesterday I had 24 due, now three of them have calves,” he says when I … [ Read more]

On the Shores of the ‘Great Water’: The Ojibwe people’s migration to Gichigamiing

To the Ojibwe people, Lake Superior is “Gichigamiing”—the “great water” or “sea.” Today, Ojibwe communities are scattered around the northern and southern regions of Gichigamiing, including throughout Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ontario. The Ojibwe have a culturally and historically significant relationship to Gichigamiing going back hundreds of years, when they first migrated to the region.  … [ Read more]

The Inimitable Robert ‘Fish’ Jones: The dandy zookeeper of Minneapolis

You’re walking down a busy street in Minneapolis in the late 1800s. You have a list of items that you need to purchase, are juggling the parcels you have already picked up, and you are scanning your list to figure out the next place you need to stop. With your head down, ready to fall … [ Read more]

Mindful Consumption: A Minimalist’s Guide to Buying Stuff

When I was 10 years old, I stumbled into my most prized possession. It was a wallet that belonged to my grandfather. I was young enough when he passed away that I had no memory of him, just some photos of me sitting on his lap, and now this wallet. After dutifully serving me for years … [ Read more]

Craft Culture: 130 years of water and the grindstone at Schech’s Mill

At first the vibrations in the water are faint. Small ripples break through the surface of the stream as they push out from the base of an old stone building. But the current soon becomes a rapid swirl as more than 8,000 gallons flow into the creek with each passing minute. The disturbance outside is … [ Read more]

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Two Visions for the Future of the Ford Site

The City of St. Paul is close to finalizing a development plan for the long-vacant, 135-acre site of the former Ford Assembly Plant in Highland Park. But not everyone is on board with the vision that the City has proposed. We asked a supporter and an opponent to make their argument for why they think … [ Read more]

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Parks—and Water—For the People: The history of Minneapolis’ hand-pump drinking wells

When Minneapolis resident Jessica Rosenberg was a little girl, she and her brother had a special ritual they shared with their grandparents. They would load up the trunk of the car with empty plastic milk jugs and drive from their St. Louis Park home to Lake Harriet. Once there, they’d unload the jugs and walk … [ Read more]

Craft Culture: Preserving the magic of motion pictures with Bob DeFlores

When the lights in the room dim and the silver screen lights up, Bob DeFlores doesn’t watch the animated characters that spring to life. As the old film starts to run, he turns his attention toward the hundreds of people sitting in plush theater seats before him. He stares at each face in turn, gauging … [ Read more]

Root beer maverick: How one little, old lady battled the harsh Minnesota wilderness & made root beer for thousands

Until 1986, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness was home to hundreds of wild species, including moose, beavers, bears, bobcats, bald eagles—and one little, old lady named Dorothy Molter. Molter was the last legal non-indigenous resident of the BWCAW. She operated a resort that became a legendary destination in one of the most remote parts … [ Read more]

Kelley Farm renovations to showcase changes in Minnesota agriculture

The Oliver Kelley Farm opens for the season April 1, following a multimillion dollar renovation. The new spaces and programming hope to showcase changes in Minnesota’s agricultural history—spanning from the 1860s to modern day. “In the new Farm Lab area, visitors can explore today’s agriculture through modern cropland, animals, gardens and an outdoor exhibit trail. Then … [ Read more]

The (not so) complete history of Pierre “Pig’s Eye” Parrant

Given St. Paul’s colorful past, it shouldn’t be surprising that the city’s first resident of European descent was a bar owner with legal troubles, and the first building was his eponymous bar. [pro_ad_display_adzone id=”35969″ align=”right” info_text=”Advertisement” info_text_position=”above” font_color=”#6d6d6d” font_size=”13″ padding=”10″ background_color=”#ffffff” border=”2″ border_color=”#878787″] Pierre “Pig’s Eye” Parrant’s early years are shrouded in mystery. Here are … [ Read more]

When the NFL came to Duluth: The story of the Eskimos

Minnesota has a long and rich history of professional football. For most of the state’s fans, the mention of pro football immediately conjures images of the icy breaths of the Purple People Eaters suspended in the chilly Metropolitan Stadium air, of Randall Cunningham firing off 60-yard touchdown passes, of missed kicks and four Superbowls. But … [ Read more]

Penumbra Theatre to celebrate 40 years of artistic expression with new Minnesota History Center exhibit

St. Paul’s Penumbra Theatre was founded in 1976 by Lou Bellamy to create an artistic forum for African American voices in the Twin Cities. Forty years later, the theater company is still creating thought-provoking performances, increasing public awareness of African American contributions, and igniting social change. Coming this February—timed to open during Black History Month—Penumbra … [ Read more]

Minnesota’s fire towers: Steel sentinels standing guard over the state’s forests

Autumn travel in the Northland offers an abundance of adventures and breathtaking fall scenery, but few can top the thrill and view of climbing one of the remaining fire towers that once guarded Minnesota’s forests. Standing at an average of over 100 feet in height, these steel sentinels once numbered around 150 in Minnesota (by … [ Read more]

New walking tour unveils Duluth’s dark history

These days Duluth, Minnesota, is thought of as a thriving tourist destination on the shores of Lake Superior, but the industrial town has a darker history than most Minnesotans may know. Shipwrecks, pirates, red light districts, and gun fights may sound like tall tales, but they in fact true stories from Duluth’s past. The Duluth Experience, a … [ Read more]