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Winter Carnivals

A photo of trip down tobbogan slide. Negative No. 79570
An adventurous trip down the toboggan slide at the 1916 St. Paul Winter Carnival, MHS Collections (Negative No. 79570).


By the early 1880s, St. Paul was the third-largest rail center in the country, but most Americans saw the city as remote and its climate inhospitable. When a New York newspaper compared St. Paul to Siberia and declared it "unfit for human habitation," it was just the push that capital city businessmen needed. The result was St. Paul's first winter carnival in 1886—a roaring success by every measure. Still celebrated every year, the city's frosty festival has inspired celebrations and winter sporting events across the state.