Star of the North. The Bread and Butter State. Land of 10,000 Lakes. The North Star State. The Gopher State.
Welcome to the Midwestern state nearest and dearest to my heart! Minnesota is where my parents, their families and all but one of my siblings were born. Whenever we moved away for a year or three, ’twas the Land of 10,000 Lakes we always came back to.
And that number is no exaggeration; officially, Minnesota has 11,842 lakes with a surface area larger than 10 acres, giving the state 90,000 miles of shoreline. That’s more than California, Florida and Hawaii combined. Ralph W. Samuelson, a Minnesotan, created the first waterskis just before his 19th birthday in 1922 because he wanted to create something similar to snow-skiing on the water. In 1925, he became the first speed skier, racing across the water at 80 miles an hour behind a Curtiss flying boat. If winter sports are more your style, Minnesota’s got history there, too; Polaris Industries in Roseau invented the snowmobile.
Masking tape and Post-it notes were created by the Minnesota company 3M (Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing – just in case you’ve ever wondered). Some other Minnesota inventions are the flight data recorder – the “Black Box” which is actually orange – retractable seat belts, the Control Data supercomputer and the Cray supercomputer, the pop-up toaster, and – wait for it – Tonka Trucks. If you, like I and my brother, had one or more of these sturdy metal toys that took everything an active kid could throw at them and come smiling back for more, say a silent “thank you,” to the Mound Metalcraft Company of Minnetonka, Minnesota. And, hey – do you rollerblade? (When my dog was young I did; rollerblades work fantastically for exercising an energetic Husky mix.) Well, while in-line skates have been around for a while, rollerblades themselves – with improved wheels and braking – were invented by Minnesota students Scott and Brennan Olson in 1980, who wanted a way to practice hockey during the summer months!
Places to go
Mall of America – Bloomington
Como Park – Saint Paul
Lake Superior Railroad Museum – Duluth
**Hormel Spam Museum – Austin
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Stuff to see
The William A. Irvin – Duluth
**Statue of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox – Bemidji
**World’s Largest Twine Ball – Darwin
**Rocky Taconite – Silver Bay
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Things to do
Skyline Parkway – Duluth
Niagara Cave – Harmony
Wabasha Cave Tours – Saint Paul
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** denotes places and events I have no personal experience with – YET!