Due to scheduled maintenance, parts of MNHS.org will be inaccessible on Monday, November 24.
Minnesota Historical Society M-Flame Logo

Home / Exhibits / Weather Permitting / Tour the Gallery / Land of 10,000 Frozen Lakes

Land of 10,000 Frozen Lakes

Illustration of ball game played on frozen river. Negative No. 38936
Seth Eastman, Ball Play of the Dahcota (Sioux) Indians, 1850, etching, MHS Collections (Negative No. 38936).


Despite the state slogan, Minnesota is actually a land of 11,842 lakes. And thanks to our state's propensity toward temperatures below 32 degrees, almost all the lakes freeze in the winter. Long before immigrants introduced skating, curling, and hockey here, Indians were playing sliding games on the ice and building snow houses for spearfishing. Today, though most winter sports have moved to more comfortable indoor rinks, thousands of Minnesotans still insist on whiling away endless hours perched over small holes in the ice, hoping to catch the big one.