Franklin Steele claims land at the Falls
Before the use of electricity became widespread, machines needed to be driven by other sources of power. Rivers and waterfalls provided a natural form of energy, which could be tapped through the use of waterwheels. These wheels would revolve in a current of water. The more steady the current, like near a waterfall, the more efficient was the wheel. The more efficient the wheel, the more power it generated for use in machinery housed in the mills attached to the waterwheels. These mills might contain saws to cut huge logs into lumber; or they might hold a great stone to grind wheat into flour. When pioneers came to Minnesota looking for ways to earn money, many of them, like Franklin Steele, saw great possibilities for wealth in the Falls of St. Anthony. They knew that by tapping into the powerful flow of the river, they could create valuable commodities for use in the community. Steele was a storekeeper at Fort Snelling. When the federal government made land available to private citizens at the Falls of St. Anthony, he was the first entrepreneur--or potential businessperson--to stake a claim there.
Baseball and Cooperstown
Baseball has been played in the United States for a long time. A game called rounders was very popular in the early 1800s. In rounders a bat, ball, and bases were used, just like in modern baseball. But unlike today's game, in rounders batters were put "out" when they were hit by a thrown ball---called "plugging"---as they raced around the base path. Just when and where present-day baseball was created is hard to pinpoint. Around the turn of the twentieth century, a committee named by Major League baseball owners decided that the game began in Cooperstown, New York, in 1839. To honor its greatest players, the Major League built the Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown. It seems likely now, however, that the first modern game of baseball was actually played in New Jersey in 1846 by a team called the New York Knickerbockers. The manager of the Knickerbockers, Alexander Cartwright, is credited with writing a set of rules for the game that still stand. They include the creation of foul lines, nine-member teams, and a standard of three bases and a home plate---and no more plugging.
Steele hires Ard Godfrey to supervise the St. Anthony business
The new community at the Falls of St. Anthony attracted a certain kind of people. Almost all of them were looking for an opportunity to make money. And many came from New England, where they had experience in the lumber business or milling. Ard Godfrey is a good example of the type of person who came. Franklin Steele hired Godfrey to help build and run the first sawmill at the Falls. Godfrey came from Maine. There, he had worked in the fur-trading business and in lumber milling. He had learned the most efficient ways to use natural resources, like the falls, and the great pine forests, to make products like lumber. People like Godfrey were invaluable to growing communities in Minnesota. They brought experience and know-how to the frontier. Godfrey wound up staying in St. Anthony. In fact, he built the first house there, and his daughter was the first white child born in the city.
First sawmill completed at the Falls
When the first commercial sawmill opened at the Falls of St. Anthony in 1848, it meant that more timber from the northern woods could be cut into lumber for a variety of uses. Opening sawmills on the Mississippi River helped MinnesotaÕs logging industry, which had previously built sawmills on the St. Croix River in Stillwater, Marine, and other towns. Logging crews would set up camp in the woods in the winter months. It was easier for them to cut and move huge logs on packed snow than through the thickets of a summer forest. In the spring, when the rivers were high, these crews would float logs down the Mississippi and its tributaries (the streams and rivers that ran into the Mississippi). The cut timber would float down the river to the new sawmills at the Falls of St. Anthony. There, the wood would be cut into lumber and used to help build homes and businesses in Minnesota and elsewhere in the country.
Seneca Falls Convention is held
The first large, organized Women's Rights gathering in the United States took place in the little town of Seneca Falls, New York in 1848. More than a hundred women, along with a few men, met there to discuss society's unequal treatment of the sexes. Most of those attending were women from northern states. Many were veterans of the Abolitionist movement, including two of the most notable leaders of the convention, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott. The Convention drafted a statement styled after the 1776 Declaration of Independence. The Seneca Falls Declaration asserted that "all men and women are created equal." It also listed examples of male dominance in government and the law, and demanded that women should be allowed the right to vote. It would be many years before that right was granted to women by passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution in 1920. But the seeds of a nationwide women's movement, dedicated to furthering the cause of women's rights, were planted in Seneca Falls.
Minnesota becomes a territory
Minnesota had a long history before it became a part of the United States. Its first inhabitants probably came to the region at least 10,000 years ago. These Native Americans lived on the land and enjoyed its bounties for thousands of years. From the 1600s onward, they were joined by European fur traders, missionaries, and adventurers. At different times after that, the land of Minnesota was claimed separately by England, France, and Spain. After the American Revolution, in the late 1700s, Minnesota became a part of the United States. Still, it took a long time for Americans to settle in the region. In 1819 Fort Snelling---a U.S. army post---was built where the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers meet. It took almost 20 years after that for other communities to emerge at Taylors Falls and Stillwater on the St. Croix River; and at St. Paul and St. Anthony Falls, near Fort Snelling. When Minnesota became a territory in 1849, fewer than 5,000 white people inhabited the land.
First grist and flour mills at St. Anthony Falls
First suspension bridge over the Mississippi
Two separate communities shared the resources of the falls. St. Anthony the slightly older town on the east side of the Mississippi was settled in 1838. The community on the west side of the river took the name Minneapolis, which combined a part of a Dakota Indian for "Laughing Waters", with a Greek word--polis--which meant city. It was settled in 1849. Both of these two towns grew quickly and developed a number of industries at the falls. Along with the sawmills that were built there, enterprising business people constructed grist and flour mills along the river. Flour mills ground wheat into flour with giant stones powered by water. Grist mills used the same means to turn a variety of grains, like corn and barley, into a fine "grist", or powder. St. Anthony and Minneapolis were rivals through most of these years, each trying to outdo the other in developing the resources of the falls. In 1855, they were joined for the first time by a suspension bridge built over the river. This was the first bridge to span the Mississippi. Both as a symbol and an actual means of travel, it helped link the two cities, which merged in 1872 and took the name Minneapolis.
Traverse des Sioux and Mendota Treaties signed
Minnesota becomes a state
In its early days, the Minnesota Territory was only a fraction of the size of the current state of Minnesota. In 1851 the governor of the territory, Alexander Ramsey, and other representatives of the settlers, approached members of several bands of Dakota Indians. They asked the Native Americans to cede, or give up, a large part of their land in exchange for money and the right to live permanently on other lands in the territory. Ramsey and other whites felt the rich natural resources of Minnesota could support thousands of new settlers. They wanted land to help bring more people to the territory and help grow the economy of the region. While the Dakota were suspicious of the intentions of the white settlers, they felt that even if they didn't sign the treaties, white people would move onto the land anyway, and the Dakota people would get nothing in return. As a consequence, the treaties were signed, and more and more people came to the Minnesota Territory to farm the rich prairie land. Soon, there were enough to qualify the region for statehood, which was achieved in 1858.
E. G. Otis installs the first safety elevator
The invention of the elevator in 1857 helped introduce the age of the skyscraper. For the first time in history, people could safely rise above a few stories in any given building without climbing seemingly endless stairs. Freight could be hauled upward. Businesses and homes could be located high above the ground. Crowded cities began to expand toward the sky rather than squeezing into ever-diminishing space on the ground. Primitive elevators had existed for many years prior to 1857. Most were operated by pulleys and ropes and had no safety features. Then a man named Elisha Otis created an elevator that would "catch," or break its fall, if the rope pulling an elevator car snapped. After Otis exhibited his creation, safety elevators became widely used. The increased use of electricity after the 1880s helped further the construction of elevators. Innovations in design allowed elevators to go higher with more safety, and architects began designing ever-taller buildings. The physical shape of cities across the country began to change as skylines created by tall buildings began to emerge.
The Civil War
The U.S. Civil War was the most brutal conflict ever fought on American soil. Hundreds of thousands of people were killed or wounded, and the war dragged on for four long years. The Civil War was fought between a group of Northern states, called the Union, and a group of Southern states, called the Confederacy. The Confederacy had seceded, or left, the United States because they felt the rights of its people---including the right to hold slaves---were being challenged by the Union. The Northern states, led by President Abraham Lincoln, fought to maintain the United States as one nation. As the war dragged on, it became apparent that the deepest division between the two regions was caused by the institution of slavery. The Confederate states felt that slavery was necessary to maintain the economic stability and social traditions of the South. African Americans---and many others---felt that slavery was an evil practice that needed to end immediately. In 1862 Abraham Lincoln issued a document called the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared the slaves to be free. In 1865 the North won the war when Confederate forces, under the command of Robert E. Lee, surrendered at a courthouse in Appamattox, Virginia. Though it would take many decades to heal the scars left from the conflict, the Civil War brought an end to slavery.
Eliza Winston comes to St. Anthony
As the Civil War approached, tensions between the northern and southern states began to mount. Minnesota also felt the rising heat. For many years, tourists from southern states had traveled by boat up the Mississippi River to Minnesota to see famous sights like The Falls of Anthony. Tourism was a lucrative, or money-making, enterprise for a number of Minnesota businesses, including hotels in Minneapolis and St. Anthony. Sometimes these southern tourists brought slaves with them and abolitionists in Minnesota were offended by that fact. They said that the law declared no men and women could be held in bondage in Minnesota, even if they were just visiting. In the summer of 1860, a slave named Eliza Winston was brought to Minnesota by her master, a Mississippi plantation owner.Anti-slavery activists in Minneapolis petitioned a judge to have her freed, and he ordered the sheriff to do just that. But there were a lot of people in Minnesota who felt northerners had no business intervening in the matter. They didn't want to offend the sensibilities of visiting southerners, and they didn't want to wreck the tourist trade. In the end, Eliza was allowed to remain free, and she went from Minneapolis to Canada.
Among the Dakota Indians, there had been bad feelings toward white settlers at least since the signing of the Taverse des Sioux and Mendota Treaties in 1851. These treaties had left the Dakota with just a narrow strip of land on the Minnesota River. Their hunting grounds were almost all gone, and the Indian people had grown more and more dependent on their annual treaty payments for food and necessities. In August 1862 those payments were late, and the Dakota were hungry and angry. After a group of young Dakota Indians attacked and killed a family of white farmers, violence erupted up and down the Minnesota River Valley. Hundreds of settlers were killed. Then an army of volunteers was organized, headed by Henry Sibley, one the leading citizens of Minnesota. The army marched down the river valley to quell the fighting. Although many Dakota did not take part in the uprising, Indians were punished as if they had all played a part. Thirty-eight Dakota men were hanged and hundreds more men, women, and children were forced to move to a camp in South Dakota. After the conflict, white settlers felt more than ever like they had a right to take Dakota land. The few Dakota who remained had no power to stem the flow of newcomers to the land.
The Falls nearly collapse after a tunnel caves in
White settlers who first came to Minnesota saw such an abundance of natural resources that they had a hard time imagining they could ever be depleted. The forests were so dense and the prairies so lush that people didnÕt worry about them ever disappearing. Likewise, they couldn't imagine how the Falls of St. Anthony could ever be ruined. But as mills and other businesses were erected around the Falls, they changed the nature of the river. Dams were constructed to divert water towards mills. This narrowed the channel of the Mississippi and caused a heavier, and more damaging, flow of water over the Falls. To keep the Falls from eroding, a Minneapolis business built a wooden "apron" over the rocky ledge that formed the Falls in 1866. But other businesses along the river were still trying to tap as much power from the water as they could. In 1869, a St. Anthony company began construction on a tunnel beneath Nicollet and Hennepin Islands. They intended to divert water from the river. The tunnel collapsed underneath the river between Nicollet and Hennepin Islands, causing a whirlpool to form, which forced a huge rush of water under Hennepin Island, washing out part of the island and caving in buildings. As the water rushed into the whirlpool, people feared the falls themselves would collapse as the rock underneath the limestone ledge eroded, or wore away. After much activity and worry that the efforts to save the falls would fail, they were saved. Efforts to preserve the Falls began in earnest. These included rebuilding the apron and shoring up, or supporting, the limestone from below to prevent further erosion of the falls.
The University of Minnesota opens.
In 1851 the territorial legislature of Minnesota decided to create a university. Land in St. Anthony Falls was donated by Franklin Steele, who had helped create the town. About $50,000 was set aside for the construction of a new building that would be the heart of the campus. Unfortunately a financial crises struck the territory and money became scarce. Then the Civil War began and state resources for a university were further limited. It took 18 years for The University of Minnesota to finally open its doors in 1869. About 300 students enrolled, ranging in age from the mid-20s down to 13. Minnesota had very few high schools at the time. The university had to serve the dual function of first preparing, or "prepping," students for a college education, and then giving them one. The only building on campus was one constructed with the original $50,000. It was called Old Main. All dormitory rooms and lecture halls, as well as the library and chapel, were housed in this one hall. The University of Minnesota was co-educational---both men and women attended. The first graduating class, in 1873, had two members.
Grasshopper plagues haunt farmers
After the Civil War, more and more people came to Minnesota. There were vast areas of untouched prairie land in the south and west parts of the state that people were sure would make rich farmland for anyone willing to break the sod. To encourage settlers, the United States Congress passed the Homestead Act, which granted free land to anyone willing to make new farms in the west. Railroads companies, too, were helping to inch the frontier westward by building miles and miles of roads that gave remote farms access to markets. But building a farm in western Minnesota was no easy task. It was backbreaking work with few comforts. Much of the land didn't even have trees, which meant a lot of people had to make their homes out of sod. The summers were hot and the winters were freezing cold. Then in the summer of 1873, voracious grasshoppers descended on the crops and ate everything in sight. They were so many grasshoppers, that on occasion they blocked out the sun. They would eat whole fields in a matter of minutes. Millions of dollars worth of crops were destroyed, and hundreds of farmers were ruined. Farmers had no crops to sell and couldnÕt buy seed for the next yearÕs crop. Many farm families went hungry and had no money for food. The grasshoppers would often eat the small vegetable gardens farmers grew to feed their families. The grasshoppers came for five summers in a row --and then, just as suddenly they came, they quit coming. No one knows for sure why.
Washburn A Mill completed, explodes in 1878
The western parts of Minnesota began filling with new settlers after the Civil War. The federal government had made free land available through legislation called the Homestead Act. Railroad companies helped the expansion by building tracks into the territory, giving farmers ready access to markets. Newcomers began to turn the vast prairie into farms, and many of these farmers decided to grow wheat. As the settlers shipped their grain to Minneapolis by railroad, the flour mills at the Falls of St. Anthony became busier and more profitable than they'd ever been before. In 1874, one of the largest flour companies, the Washburn Company, built a giant mill at the falls. Called the Washburn A Mill, it was one of the largest in the world, containing 41 grinding stones (the next largest mill at the falls had only 15). Just four years after it was built, the A Mill exploded. Many other businesses along the falls caught fire at the same time, including lumberyards and a railroad roundhouse. Almost a third of the milling business at the falls was lost, and many people wondered if the flour-milling industry at the falls would ever recover.
Alexander Graham Bell invents the telephone
Until the nineteenth century, the only way for people to communicate over long distances was by messenger or by the written word. A revolution in communications began in the mid-1800s with the invention of the telegraph by Samuel Morse. Morse discovered that it was possible to send electrical impulses through wires in a series of dots and dashes that could be decoded into words. An even more dramatic discovery was made by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876. Bell found out that these same wires could transmit a human voice. By converting sound waves into electrical impulses, and then converting them back into sound waves through a receiver, the telephone allowed people to talk with one another as if they were in the same room. In a matter of years, telephones could be found in thousands of homes across the country. By the late twentieth century, the basic element of these inventions---the transmission of electronic communciation impulses through wires---was still being used in new developments such as the Internet and cable television.
James J. Hill buys the bankrupt St. Paul and Pacific Railroad
One of the most powerful and influential men to live in the state of Minnesota in the 19th Century was James J. Hill. As a young man, Hill came to St. Paul from Canada. He worked for a number of years with steamboat companies that shipped freight to and from Minnesota. In the 1870s, he saw how settlers were filling up the western parts of Minnesota and the Dakotas, and he decided to get into the railroad business. Hill thought there was money to be made in shipping the produce of these farms to markets across the country. In 1878, he bought a bankrupt railroad called the St. Paul and Pacific, which he eventually would rename the Great Northern Railroad Company. This railroad was enormously successful. It spread all across the northern United States and into Canada. Hill became a very wealthy man and wound up owning, or having a share in, a number of businesses important to the growth of Minnesota, including iron mines, Great Lakes ships and waterpower. He also had a stake in many of the businesses at the Falls of St. Anthony. In addition, he built the Stone Arch Bridge, which crosses the Mississippi just below the falls, and links the railroads of St. Paul with the rails of Minneapolis.
Pillsbury A Mill completed
The devastating explosion of the Washburn A Mill, which rocked Minneapolis in 1878, proved only a temporary setback to the region's economic growth. Trainloads of wheat continued to come into Minneapolis from the west, and the flour milling industry grew very quickly. In 1881, the Pillsbury Company completed construction on the largest flour mill in the world. Called the Pillsbury A Mill, it had the capacity to grind out four thousand barrels of flour a day. With the Pillsbury A Mill, and all of the other flour mills working at the falls, more flour was shipped from the falls than any other spot in the country. Minneapolis--which had combined with St. Anthony Falls in 1872 to form one city--was the flour-milling capital of the United States. It was even known by the nickname "The Mill City." The city bustled with new people and new businesses. In just twenty years, between 1870 and 1890, Minneapolis would grow from a small town of 16,000, into one of the largest cities in the Midwest with a population of 164,000 people.
Electric waterpower lights up Minneapolis
The Falls of St. Anthony on the Mississippi River were the source of a great deal of wealth and power for many people in the state of Minnesota. As the river tumbled over the Falls, its force was converted into different forms of energy as the fast-moving water set giant wheels spinning. At lumber mills, saws that were connected to the wheels cut timber. Millers used the energy from the waterwheels to grind wheat into flour. The growing number of farmers in western Minnesota and the Dakotas shipped their crops to Minneapolis in ever-increasing amounts. So much flour was produced in Minneapolis that the town became known around the country as the Mill City. In September 1882 the waterpower of the Falls was put to a totally new use. A power station had been built near the Falls to capture the energy of the water in hydroelectric cells. Wires strung from the station were connected to a few businesses along Washington Avenue in Minneapolis. With the flick of switch, electricity was sent along the wires. For the first time ever in the United States, electricity illuminated an American city.
George Eastman perfects the Kodak box camera
Photography was a very specialized profession before George Eastman created "rolls" of film. Since it began in the 1820s and 30s, photography had required quick access to dark rooms for immediate developing. The cumbersome glass plates used to capture images in cameras needed to stay wet with a chemical coating. Otherwise, they would be "exposed" before they were developed. Mathew Brady, famed for his powerful photographs of the Civil War, had to build a traveling darkroom to accompany him in the field. Not everyone had the means or the knowledge to create photographs. Then Eastman invented a process by which images could be captured and safely stored on a roll of celluloid---one of the earliest kinds of plastic. These rolls fit neatly in a portable box camera, which Eastman called the "Kodak". Suddenly photography became possible for millions of Americans. Anyone who could afford a camera became an amateur photographer. Pictures of family, friends and special events could be recorded---something that had never before been possible for the average person. Eastman and his film also helped lead the way to the creation of motion pictures by Thomas Edison, just a few years later.
St. Mary's Hospital (later called the Mayo Clinic) opens
One of the world's greatest hospitals began in Rochester, Minnesota, after a devastating tornado hit the area in 1883. At the time of the disaster, there was no hospital to care for the injured. Afterward, a group of Catholic nuns decided to start one. They asked a local doctor named William Mayo if he would be willing to serve as doctor for the medical facility, which they would call St. Mary's Hospital. Dr. Mayo was an extraordinary physician. He'd come to Minnesota from England in the 1850s. Though he'd practiced medicine for many years on the frontier, he always kept abreast of the latest innovations in surgical techniques and medical practice. He agreed to help the nuns, and in 1889 the hospital opened. In addition to Dr. Mayo, the hospital staff included his two sons, William James and Charles, who were themselves superb physicians. In time, St. Mary's would change its name to the Mayo Clinic and develop a reputation for being one of the finest medical centers anywhere. Presidents and kings seek treatment at the center, as do ordinary patients from around the world.
Iron and steel workers strike in the United States
During the nineteenth century, many Americans saw changes in the way they earned a living. New inventions and new forms of power, such as steam and electricity, allowed work to be done faster than it had ever been done before. New machinery allowed farmers to tend their fields with fewer farmhands, and factories were springing up throughout the land to produce goods that used to be made by hand. People began leaving farmwork to find employment at large companies. Many new immigrants also found work in factories. Factory owners often set very long hours and very low wages. To help protect their interests, workers began to form labor unions to demand better pay and working conditions. One of the chief means they used to get what they wanted was the strike. A whole group of workers would simply refuse toperform their jobs. The managers of the factories, and those who invested in them, called capitalists, countered strikes by hiring new workers. As a consequence, angry and violent fights erupted between workers and owners. One of the most violent occurred in 1892 when Andrew Carnegie, the owner of a giant steel manufactory, hired replacement workers at his plant in Homestead, Pennsylvania. Though Carnegie ultimately won this battle, unions and their tactics---including strikes---became more and more accepted by the people of the United States.
In 1894 northern Minnesota suffered a drought, with little or no rain from May until September. The northern woods were extremely dry. Throughout the summer residents had managed to extinguish a series of small fires. People worried that a bigger fire might happen. At this time the lumber industry in Minnesota was at its peak. The northern forests were being cut down at an awesome rate. Lumber companies moved from one part of the woods to the next in search of virgin, or uncut, forests. When they moved from an area that had been cut, the loggers left behind dead trees, wood chips, and underbrush---all of which were extremely flammable. On September 1, it happened. A huge fire began in the area around Hinckley, about 80 miles south of Duluth. It spread so quickly that people couldn't escape its path. The fire got so hot that it melted coins and twisted railroad tracks. In all, more than 500 square miles around Hinckley burned and at least 400 people were killed. One of the worst fires in the nation's history, the Hinckley Fire spurred the state legislature to enact laws to control logging practices and help prevent forest fires in Minnesota.
Lower Dam completed
Even as the flour industry reached its peak at the Falls, a subtle shift began in the way the river was used by the businesses along its banks. When enough electrical power was generated at St. Anthony Falls in 1882 to light parts of Minneapolis---the first time ever in the United States that a city had been illuminated by electricity---it signaled the dawn of new era at the Falls. Hydroelectricity---electricity generated by water power--- would, in time, become the primary source of revenue for businesses with interests at the Falls. In the 1890s, there were numerous technological improvements in how electricity was created, stored and distributed. The Pillsbury-Washburn Company decided to take advantage of these changes. Under the leadership of one of its principal managers, William De la Barre, Pillsbury-Washburn built a dam, 2,200 feet below the Falls. Completed in 1897 and called "The Lower Dam", this structure diverted water to a power station which generated electricity to help run the electric streetcars in Minneapolis.
Wright brothers make their first flight
For centuries humans had dreamed of flying. As early as the 1500s, the famous artist and inventor, Leonardo da Vinci drew sketches of a machine that looked much like a modern-day helicopter. In 1783, two French brothers named Montgolfier filled a large balloon with hot air and sent a friend aloft in the world's first balloon ride. Throughout the nineteenth century, inventors tinkered with ideas for self-propelled flight. None succeeded. Then around the turn of the twentieth century, two brothers from Dayton, Ohio---Wilbur and Orville Wright---decided they would try to build an airplane. The Wright brothers were bicycle mechanics. They had no special training in aerodynamics (the science of flight). But through careful observation and repeated tests, they devised a machine that combined just the right ingredients for flight. At Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, in December 1903, Orville Wright became the first person ever to fly an airplane. It would take a while before self-propelled flight would have a wide impact on the way people travel, but in time planes, jets, and rockets---all means by which humans defy gravity---would change the modern world.
New state capitol completed in St. Paul
The state capitol building in St. Paul was completed in 1905. It cost almost $4 million to build---an enormous sum of money at the time. The building was designed by a famous architect named Cass Gilbert. Gilbert designed many other buildings in Minnesota as well, and he went on to create some of the nation's first skyscrapers--including the Woolworth Building in New York, which, for a time, was the tallest building in the world. Still in use, the capitol building designed by Gilbert was the third capitol used in Minnesota. All were in St. Paul. Fire destroyed the first building in 1881. The second building was not big enough to house the growing needs of the state government, so in the 1890s the state legislature held a contest to see who could draw the best plans for a new capitol. Gilbert's design won. In constructing the building, he used a kind of architecture called Italian Renaissance, which is modeled after architecture found in Italy. The capitol building contains the offices and chambers (meeting rooms) of the two houses of the state legislature, as well as the governor's offices. The dome at the very center of the building is 220 feet high.
Hennepin Island hydroelectric plant completed
William De la Barre also led the next great effort to create hydroelectric power at St. Anthony Falls. Built between 1906 and 1908, the hydroelectric plant was a unique way to harness electric power at the Falls. The Hennepin Island plant generated electricity by means of surplus water flowing by the Falls. Instead of tapping directly into the rapid stream of the river, the Hennepin Island plant used water that had been diverted away from the Falls, into slowly flowing outlets near the eastern bank of the river. This water had been used for years to help run mills. Now it was being used to create electricity, too. De la Barre and the company he worked for, Pillsbury-Washburn, leased the plant to a Minneapolis power company for $75,000 a year. It was another indication that the days had ended when flour-milling was the chief source of income for businesses at the Falls. The Age of Hydroelectricity had arrived at the Falls.
Creation of the NAACP
Although the Civil War had ended slavery in the United States, African Americans at the turn of the twentieth century still were viewed by most other people in the United States as second-class citizens. The separation of white and black people from one another---called segregation---was enforced by law in many parts of the country. This meant, among many other restrictions, that African Americans couldn't eat at the same restaurants as white people, or stay in the same hotels, or ride on the same trolley cars. In 1909 the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was founded to help change this state of affairs. Led by leaders like W. E. B. Du Bois, the NAACP demanded an end to biased treatment of African Americans. They insisted upon equal voting rights, the abolishment of racial discrimination, better educational opportunities for black people, and full acceptance of the constitutional rights of African Americans. The NAACP would be a powerful voice throughout the twentieth century. It would play a major role in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, which finally put an end to segregation.
St. Paul Winter Carnival starts being held yearly
Minnesotans have traditionally been sensitive about how the rest of the country views the state, particularly when it comes to the subject of its weather. Some of this sensitivity stems from its early days, when Minnesota was trying to attract newcomers to the area. In the 1880s a visiting journalist described St. Paul as "another Siberia, unfit for human habitation in winter." To counter this impression, St. Paul decided to throw a big party in the coldest month of the year. In 1886, St. Paul staged its first Winter Carnival. The city built an enormous and beautiful ice palace. It was 189 feet long and 106 feet high and contained more than 20,000 blocks of ice pulled from the Mississippi River. In addition, there were skating rinks, toboggan runs, and a mock Dakota Indian village -- all contained within the palace. Grand ice palaces were built for the next two years as well. But the cost of creating such spectacles was high. For 20 years after it began, the Winter Carnival was staged only periodically. Than in 1916, it resumed on a regular basis, and has been going strong ever since.
High dam and lock below St. Anthony Falls completed
Minneapolis was built around St. Anthony Falls. It grew into a great city with the aid of the power generated by the water there. But one thing that the Falls couldn't give to Minneapolis was a form of direct navigation to the city itself. Barges and boats couldn't make their way up the river past the rough waters south of Falls. As a consequence, St. Paul remained the sole Twin Cities harbor for shipping on the Mississippi---a fact that perturbed Minneapolis business leaders for decades. In the 1910s a plan was implemented to further navigation up the river. Federal money was set aside to construct a dam near Fort Snelling. When the structure was completed in 1917, it provided more hydroelectric power for the metropolitan area, as well as an increase in navigable river. Unfortunately for Minneapolitans, barges still couldn't make it all the way to the Falls. And the electrical power generated by the dam wound up being used by a new plant constructed by automaker Henry Ford---in St. Paul.
World War I
World War I began in Europe in July 1914, as a results of events which caused Germany and Austria-Hungary to attack Serbia, Russia, and France. The countries of Europe had agreements with each other so that if one was attacked, others would assist. Within days Great Britain and other European nations had joined the fight. Because so many countries were involved, it was called a world war. At the start, most Americans felt it had little to do with them. Not only were the battles being fought overseas, they involved issues of European power that didn't seem connected to the United States. But as the war raged on and millions died, it became apparent that the United States couldn't stay neutral. In 1917, President Woodrow Wilson asked Congress to declare war on Germany and its allies. The United States joined the fighting on the side of France and Great Britain. The added resources brought by American soldiers helped defeat Germany and peace was declared on November 11, 1918. The horrible carnage of the war (the death and destruction) shocked everyone. Woodrow Wilson, and others, hoped to create a peace between the warring powers which would make World War I "the war to end all wars." Unfortunately the resulting Treaty of Versailles failed to bring this lasting peace. Just 20 years later, Europe would once again be at war.
Nineteenth Amendment gives women the right to vote
When the United States Constitution was written in 1787, it did not grant women the right to vote. The men who wrote it believed that women's opinions didn't belong in what they called "the public sphere." They felt that women didn't know enough about law and government to have a voice in politics. By the mid-nineteenth century, many women (and men) thought this view of women no longer made sense, and it made them angry. They began to lobby for an amendment to the Constitution that would grant women the right to vote. Those involved in this movement were called suffragists. “Suffrage” was simply the right to vote. To be passed, an amendment to the Constitution requires a favorable vote from two-thirds of the members in Congress, and ratification (or acceptance) by three-fourths of the states. For almost 75 years, suffragists led by women like Susan B. Anthony, Lucy Stone, Carrie Chapman Catt, and Alice Paul lobbied at both the state and federal level for passage of the amendment. The first state to grant women the right to vote was Wyoming, in 1869. Over the next 50 years, a number of other states would accept women's suffrage. But it wasn't until 1920 that the Nineteenth Amendment was passed by Congress and three-fourths of the states. Women finally had the right to vote throughout the country.
First Minnesota radio station starts broadcasting
An Italian man named Guglielmo Marconi is credited with inventing radio in the late 1890s. Without using wires, he was able to transmit a signal--a series of dots and dashes in code---from a ship in the ocean to a receiver on shore. It took several more years before people were able to successfully transmit sounds through the air. But by the early 1920s, improvements in radio transmissions and receiving techniques made possible the first radio stations in the country. In Minnesota, The first radio station on the air was WLB, the University of Minnesota station, which started broadcasting experimentally in the spring of 1921. It received its call letters and license on January 13, 1922, making it the first radio station in Minnesota. Another station, WLAG started on September 4, 1922. It was known as "The Call of the NorthWLAG was purchased in 1924 by the Washburn-Crosby Company, which had a long history in the state. Washburn-Crosby was a giant flour-milling company in Minneapolis. In time, it would become the General Mills company. When Washburn-Crosby bought WLAG, it renamed the station WCCO. WCCO would become one of the largest and most successful radio stations in the country --one that still broadcasts today (along with a "sister" television station, also called WCCO).
Minneapolis-St. Paul Metropolitan Airport opens
The Wright brothers flew the first airplane in 1903. For a number of years afterward, air travel was a novelty. People wondered what sort of practical uses it might have. In World War I, airplanes played a big role in the fighting, and ace pilots captured the imagination of the public. After the war, cities all over the United States decided they ought to build airports. The Twin Cities were no exception. In 1920 a group of citizens from the Aero Club rented some property that had once held an auto racetrack. It was located about halfway between Minneapolis and St. Paul. Runways and airplane hangars were built, and three years later an airport named Wold-Chamberlain Field was opened. Wold and Chamberlain were two pilots from Minneapolis who had been killed in World War I. One of the first and most important roles of the airport was to serve as a major stop on a national airmail route established by the U.S. Post Office. In 1926 Northwest Airways was started and was awarded the contract for this route---the Chicago-Twin Cities mail line. In 1944 Wold-Chamberlain Field was renamed the Minneapolis-St.Paul Metropolitan Airport. Northwest Airways would eventually become Northwest Airlines, which is now one of the largest airline companies in the world.
Roosevelt introduces the New Deal
In October 1929 the stock market crashed. People across the country, who had invested millions of dollars in companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange, saw their investments lost. The United States, and countries all around the world, went into an economic depression. Banks and businesses closed everywhere. Millions of people lost their jobs. Low prices on the world market for farm products made it hard for farmers to stay in business. In 1932 Americans decided that the government needed to do something to help those who had lost jobs and money. They elected Franklin Delano Roosevelt president of the United States because he promised to give Americans a "New Deal." What Roosevelt meant was that government would take a more active role than it ever had before in helping people who needed economic assistance. Roosevelt and his supporters created relief funds for the unemployed. They passed the Social Security Act, which made funds available for the elderly and for people with disabilities. They helped rural people receive electrical power through the Rural Electrification Administration. They created jobs through the Work Projects Administration. These and many other programs collectively became known as the New Deal. While the Great Depression would continue to plague the country until World War II, Roosevelt's reforms had a lasting impact on the nature of government.
Jesse Owens wins four gold medals at the Olympic Games
In 1932 the German people elected Adolph Hitler and the Nazi Party as the leaders of their nation. One of the central beliefs of Hitler and the Nazis was that Aryans---white people of non-Jewish descent---were physically superior to all other races. The Olympic Games were scheduled to be held in Berlin, Germany's capital city, in 1936. Hitler and the Nazis planned to use the games to showcase for all the world the superiority of Aryan, especially German, athletes. Instead, a black man from Ohio State University named Jesse Owens stole the show. Owens won four gold medals, an Olympic record at the time. He won the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes and the long jump competition. He was also a member of a world record-breaking relay team, which won the 400-meter relay. While Hitler was a constant presence at the games, he refused to present Owens with any gold medals or even to acknowledge Owens's victories. Many other observers around the world, however, understood that black athletes were equal to white.
Minneapolis Aquatennial starts
The city of Minneapolis owes its beginnings to waterpower. In the nineteenth century, the Falls of St. Anthony on the Mississippi River provided the power for sawmills and flour mills. Those mills created enough jobs and industry for the city of Minneapolis to grow from a tiny frontier town to one of the major cities in the United States. With this history in mind, the citizens of Minneapolis decided, in 1940, to have a party to celebrate water. In that year, and every summer since, Minneapolitans have celebrated the Aquatennial. Highlighted by an evening Torchlight Parade, the Aquatennial also features a milk carton boat race, outdoor concerts, and about 30 other events. For the first Aquatennial, Gene Autry, "the Singing Cowboy," was special guest and grand marshal of the parade. Other famous people who have served as grand marshal over the years include Richard Nixon, who at the time (1958) was the nation's vice president. The Aquatennial is held each year during the third week of July, which---curiously, for a celebration of water---is usually the driest week of the year in Minnesota.
The United States fights in World War II
American involvement in World War II began with the bombing of the Pearl Harbor by Japanese forces on December 7, 1941. But there had been tensions for years prior to that act. In Germany, Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party had established a totalitarian government -- one which controlled every aspect of German life, and even tried to eliminate one whole group of people, European Jews. Germany attacked a number of nations in Europe, including Poland, France and the Soviet Union. In Japan, a government dominated by military men had subjugated several countries in Asia, including China. The United States would have to fight two powerful enemies in different parts of the world. In the Pacific, they fought Japan through a series of invasions which removed Japanese forces from islands they had invaded, but also to set the stage for the inevitable invasion of Japan. In Europe, the North African and Italian campaigns and the Russian Front were all part of a strategy to defeat Hitler, the ultimate move coming with D-Day, the invasion of France. Along with the courage of its fighting forces, it was the great industrial and natural resources of the nation that helped the United States and its allies win the war. The cost to everyone involved was enormous. More than 6 million Jews were killed by Hitler and the Germans. And to more quickly end the war in the Pacific, the United States dropped two atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The world would never be the same.
First test explosion of an atomic bomb is performed in New Mexico
Atoms are the tiniest particles of elements like hydrogen. An atom contains an enormous amount of energy. For many years before World War II, scientists theorized about what would happen if an atom were split and that energy was released. They guessed that a nuclear reaction would occur---that there would be a tremendous explosion followed by an emission of dangerous gases, particles, and incredible amounts of energy. But no one had ever made an atomic bomb, so no one could be certain exactly what would happen. Then in 1942, the United States and its allies heard that Germany was planning to create an A-bomb. They decided that they had to build one first. President Franklin Roosevelt sent a team of scientists to a remote location in New Mexico to create the world's first nuclear weapon. This very secret operation was called The Manhattan Project. For three years, the scientists worked on the bomb, until finally, it was ready. The first atom bomb was exploded in New Mexico on July 16, 1945. Dust and heat swept the desert for miles around. A huge mushroom-shaped cloud darkened the sky. Even the scientists working on the project were awed by the bomb's power. A month later, the United States dropped atomic bombs on two Japanese cities. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were destroyed. The incredible power of nuclear explosions has terrified the world ever since.
Color TV is introduced in the United States
The McCarthy hearings are televised.
Television in the 1950s was a brand new medium. It was a revolutionary way to bring information and entertainment into homes across the country. Radio had been extremely popular since the 1920s, but now an audience could actually see performers, newscasters and personalities in their own homes. That added enormously to the impact and power of television and it quickly changed the world of politics. In 1954, Senator Joseph McCarthy held the first Congressional hearings ever to be televised. For several years, McCarthy had been leading an effort to rid various branches of government of people he thought were disloyal to the United States. In the process, he had wrongly accused a great number of people, ruining careers and damaging personal lives. McCarthy maintained a lot of popular support until people saw him on television. The hearings concerned the Army, another reason they were so widely watched, aside from people wanting to see McCarthy in action. There, for the first time, viewers could see his bullying tactics and smirking manner. McCarthy's popularity plummeted and his efforts at ridding the government of "communists" lost support. McCarthy drifted from power, and politicians throughout the country understood that a new age had begun. Television made them more vulnerable and more accountable to the electorate.
Last electric streetcar is retired
The streets of Minneapolis and St. Paul were once lined with rails. Electric streetcars, which ran on railroad tracks, were the quickest way for commuters to move around the cities. Electrical lines hung above the streets. Each car---which looked like a railroad car and was sometimes called a trolley---was connected to the line by a rod that sent electricity to the streetcar's motor. The electricity powered the machine. From the late 1880s until around the time of World War II in the 1940s, electric streetcars were the most popular way to get around the cities. But as the Twin Cities expanded after the war, and more people started to use automobiles, electric streetcars seemed less practical. People wanted the convenience of traveling directly from one destination, like their home, to another, like their place of business or a store. In 1954, the last streetcar was retired, leaving buses as the only means of mass transit within the Twin Cities.
Southdale becomes the first enclosed mall in the United States
American cities underwent a huge change in the last half of the twentieth century. In the 1950s the populations of both Minneapolis and St. Paul stopped growing, but the cities that surrounded them got bigger every day. More and better roads were constructed and thousands of affordable homes were built outside the center of the cities. Retail department store owners, such as the Dayton family, knew that this population shift meant a shift in shopping habits as well. Suburban shoppers would want to visit stores located more conveniently, close to where they lived. Customers would also want plenty of space to park their cars. In 1952 Dayton's Department Store hired an architectural firm to create a giant shopping center in Edina, to cater to suburban shopping needs. Four years later, Southdale opened, boasting 72 stores and more than 5,000 parking spaces. Regardless of the weather outside, the temperature inside was always comfortable. The first enclosed shopping mall in the nation, Southdale set a trend both around the country and in the Twin Cities, where a series of "Dales" (Rosedale, Ridgedale, Brookdale) were subsequently opened in other suburbs. The inner cities would continue to decline for many years as suburbs grew.
First barge through new locks
By the time barge and boat traffic finally reached St. Anthony Falls, many people in Minneapolis wondered what good it could bring the city. Times had changed. Through most of the 20th century the river, and the Falls, had become less and less important to the commerce of Minneapolis. Opponents claimed that the cost of constructing the canal and locks necessary to bring river traffic all the way up river was too high --greater, they said, than the business dollars that might be made from allowing the barges access to St. Anthony Falls. Plus, the construction of the project would visibly alter the landscape at the Falls. Most of the remaining business structures on the west side of the falls --remnants of Minneapolis' milling heyday-- were torn down during the building of the lock and dams. Despite criticisms, the canal and locks were completed, and the first barge ever to pushed as far as St. Anthony Falls arrived there in September, 1963.
Freedom March in Washington, D. C.
President John F. Kennedy assassinated
Humans walk on the moonB
The 1960s were a time of great social upheaval and drama throughout the nation. Efforts by African Americans and others to change discriminatory practices and segregationist laws culminated in a great "Freedom March" on Washington, D. C. in 1963. There hundreds of thousands of people listened to Martin Luther King, Jr., make a famous speech in which he declared "I have a dream" -- that some day the nation would be free of prejudice and hate. That same year, on November 22, an assassin took the life of President John F. Kennedy. His death had a profound affect on the nation. People who had seen in Kennedy the spirit of a coming age of hope and optimism felt a great sense of despair. Adding to this sense was the confusion and anger felt by many over the United States' involvement in the War in Vietnam. Many people could not understand why the United States would be involved in VietnamÕs affairs. They thought the country should withdraw its troops because they were fighting a war that did not make sense and injuring and killing innocent people. Another cause of the sense of despair many people felt during this period was the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968. These tragic events alomst overwhelmed the nation. At the same time as the country faced these important issues, it achieved something never before done in the history of the world. On July 20, 1969, astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first human being to walk on the moon. Despite all of the turmoil, the United States was still a nation that believed in great possibilities for the future.
American Indian Movement begins
Founded in Minneapolis in 1968, the American Indian Movement (AIM) is a national organization that promotes the culture and political rights of Native Americans. One reason the organization was started was to help change the ongoing mistreatment of Native Americans by the dominant white culture. By the late 1960s, that mistreatment had led many Native Americans into a life of poverty and hopelessness. AIM wanted to help these people build their own schools, get better job training, and regain a sense of their native heritage. The group also wanted to gain some political power. In the early years after its founding, AIM led a series of protests that brought national attention to its causes. Off the coast of California, AIM members occupied Alcatraz Island for more than a year to protest treatment of Native Americans on reservations in the United States. They also led a protest in South Dakota at Wounded Knee---the site of a nineteenth century massacre of Dakota Indians by U.S. soldiers. These activities awakened many people in the country to the plight of American Indians. AIM remains one of the most important voices in Indian affairs in the country.
The Falls of St. Anthony are entered on the National Register
As Minneapolis changed, so did the nature of the river and St. Anthony Falls. The lumber milling industry at the Falls was gone by the turn of the twentieth century. With it went the sawmills that had once lined the river. Flour milling also declined, until, by 1930, Minneapolis could no longer claim to be the nation's Mill City. Buffalo, New York, now made more flour. In Minneapolis, flour mills all along the river were abandoned or destroyed. Because businesses no longer made their money at the Falls, they started to move away from it. Skyscrapers began dotting the Minneapolis skyline south of the river, while along its banks the once thriving neighborhoods and businesses fell into disrepair. By the late 1960s, however, many in the community had decided that the city ought to acknowledge and preserve the area surrounding the Falls. This was where Minneapolis was born, and through use of the Falls it grew into a great city. In 1971 the Falls of St. Anthony were incorporated into a historic district and entered in the National Register. This meant that buildings still standing at the site would be preserved, and the area itself would be safeguarded and, where possible, restored.
Cigarette advertisements are banned from U.S. television
As Minneapolis changed, so changed the nature of the river and St. Anthony Falls. The lumber milling industry at the Falls was gone by the turn of the 20th Century. With it went all of the saw mills which had once lined the river. Flour milling declined for years until, by 1930, Minneapolis could no longer claim to be the nation's "Mill City." Buffalo, New York now milled more flour. In Minneapolis, flour mills all along the river were abandoned or destroyed. Because businesses no longer made their money at the Falls, they started to move away from it. aAlong the riverbank the once thriving neighborhoods and businesses fell into disrepair. By the late 1960s, however, many in the community had decided that the city ought to acknowledge and preserve the area surrounding the Falls. This was where Minneapolis was born, and through use of the Falls, it grew into a great city. In 1971, the Falls of St. Anthony were incorporated into a historic district and put on the National Register. This meant that buildings still standing at the site would be preserved, and the area itself would be safeguarded and, where possible, restored.
President Nixon resigns
During the 1972 presidential election campaign, burglars broke into the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate office complex in Washington, D. C. They were caught, but what they were doing at the Watergate seemed at first a mystery. From this small beginning grew the biggest political scandal of the century. In time, the five thieves would be linked to officials in the re-election campaign for President Richard Nixon, a member of the rival Republican Party. Then they would be linked to members of Nixon's presidential administration. And finally, they would be linked to President Nixon himself. The burglars were looking for documents that would give them inside, or secret, information about the Democratic Party and its upcoming presidential campaign. As the Watergate scandal unfolded, it turned out that the burglary was only one of numerous illegal efforts to undercut the Democratic Party's plans. For more than two years, President Nixon not only denied his involvement in these efforts, but also he tried to cover up evidence that would link him to the crimes. As more evidence came forward, however, it became increasingly clear that Nixon was involved. Impeachment proceedings against President Nixon were started to remove him from office. Before they were finished, however, Richard Nixon became the first and only president ever to resign from office.
First baseball game played in Metrodome
Until the early 1960s, Minnesota had no professional Major League sports teams. In quick succession, the state acquired two: the Minnesota Twins baseball team and the Minnesota Vikings football team. A new stadium was built in Bloomington, and for the next 20 years, fans enjoyed outdoor sports in Met Stadium. By the late 1970s, however, owners of the two teams, and some fans, argued that the Twins and the Vikings needed a new stadium. They said that harsh weather---cold springs and freezing winters---kept fans from the games. A new stadium, with a dome protecting the games from rain and snow, was built in downtown Minneapolis. The Twins played their first baseball game in the new Metrodome in 1982. Just fifteen years later, the same two teams were suggesting that they needed another stadium. This time, the Twins and the Vikings wanted a retractable roof---one that could be kept open in good weather and closed in bad. But the cost of building a new structure seemed too high to many people in Minnesota in the late 1990s.
The Internet is formed
Almost from the time computers were invented, scientists and engineers looked for ways to link the information found on one computer with the information found on others. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, an agency of the U. S. government developed a way for a number of different computers to share information through a "host" computer. But the modern Internet was still a long way off. In the mid-1980s, the National Science Foundation created a computer network which allowed universities and research centers around the country to share electronic information through a number of "super-computing" centers. It was also at this time that the idea of using phone lines to connect computers was developed. In the late 1980s, group of scientists in Europe devised a system called the World Wide Web, which created a standard "language" which computers around the world could understand. With these various tools in place, Internet use and development exploded in the 1990s.
Stone Arch Bridge repaired
Perhaps the most graceful symbol of the importance of the Falls to the history of Minneapolis is the Stone Arch Bridge. Completed in 1883 by James J. Hill's Great Northern Railroad Company, the bridge sweeps over the water and curves up the river, just below the Falls. Like other businesses that helped build the Twin Cities, rail transportation declined throughout the 20th Century. The last train crossed the Stone Arch Bridge in 1981. But this unique structure---the only arched bridge made of stone along the entire length of the Mississippi River---is a great physical reminder of all the hustle and bustle that once went on at the Falls. In 1994 the Stone Arch Bridge was re-opened as a pedestrian and biking bridge. From the middle of the bridge, a viewer can see the expanse of the Falls and imagine what it must have been like in the days when it was crowded with flour and lumber mills, and filled with people.
Mall of America opens
Thirty-six years after Minnesota became the home of the first enclosed shopping mall ever built in the United States, the state became home to the largest mall ever built in the United States. In 1992 the Mall of America opened in Bloomington. Critics of shopping malls have claimed that malls create an artificial environment and steal business from stores in inner cities and small towns, weakening those communities. Still, the popularity of malls remains strong, and the success of the Mall of America might even suggest that the "unreal" atmosphere actually adds to the mall's appeal. Since its opening, the Mall of America has become one of the biggest tourist attractions in the state. It has more than 520 stores, restaurants, and other attractions, including Knott's Camp Snoopy, a seven-acre indoor family theme park.