Minnesota Mystery Flash Fiction Contest

Congratulations to the winner and finalists in our first-ever Minnesota Mystery Flash Fiction Contest!

And thank you to everyone who participated in this contest, inspired by Sherlock Holmes: The Exhibition, now on display at the Minnesota History Center.

We asked you to tap into your inner Arthur Conan Doyle and write a short mystery involving a Minnesota historical figure or event.

We read many great entries and are excited to announce that we've chosen "John Olaf Todahl and The Petrified Man" by Elisa Korentayer as the winning story!

Read the full mystery "John Olaf Todahl and The Petrified Man" and check out the other finalists below.


Winning mystery

Elisa's story will also be featured in an upcoming issue of Minnesota History magazine!

John Olaf Todahl and The Petrified Man

By: Elisa Korentayer

Nine o'clock in the morning in Crookston, Minnesota, and, despite the heat, there was already a line around the block to see the Petrified Man. He was a sensation. The Petrified Man had been discovered just a few weeks before when Richie Omand dug a culvert on his rented land and found a body buried in the red dirt. The papers said the body might be 150 to 200 years old or even a member of some prehistoric race. Local entrepreneur Peter Bergo bought the body from Richie and rented a storefront to charge customers to see it. I was twenty-fourth in line for the grand opening.

Back in 1896, I wasn’t yet John Olaf Todahl, professional illustrator and newspaperman. I was just young Johnny with a sketchbook. When I read about today’s grand opening, I convinced Ma to let me walk four miles into town by myself to see it. I couldn’t believe that a prehistoric body had actually been found in my hometown, but I wanted it to be true. Continue reading "John Olaf Todahl and The Petrified Man"


Congratulations to our finalists!