Minnesota's landscape is the product of many forces, both natural and cultural.
Those forces, from glacial action to highway construction, have wrought profound
changes on the land. One major agent of change was the entry into Minnesota,
nearly 150 years ago, of the railroad. Railroads transformed nearly every aspect
of life. They affected the way Minnesota developed, where towns
grew and how people made a living. Perhaps the most
influential was James J. Hill's Great Northern Railway, which eventually stretched
from St. Paul to the Pacific Northwest. From city to town to countryside, the
Great Northern played a pivotal role in shaping Minnesota's landscape.