10 Interesting Facts About Minnesota

10 Interesting Facts About Minnesota

Did you know that Open Road Adventures sells Audio Tours of Minnesota? Check them out.

1. Although Minnesota’s nickname “The Land of 10,000 Lakes” seems like an overstatement, there are actually 11,842 lakes in Minnesota. Each of them is ten acres or more, which is the standard minimum size limit a body of water must reach before it can be called a lake. Minnesota has so many lakes that original names can be hard to come by. There are currently 91 lakes called Long Lake, and over a hundred with the name Mud Lake.

2. The Mall of America in Bloomington, a suburb of Minneapolis/St. Paul is the largest mall in America, but it’s not the largest mall in the world. In fact, it wasn’t even the largest mall in North America when it was built in 1992. That distinction goes to the West Edmonton Mall in Alberta, Canada. While the Mall of America boasts an area of 4.2 million square feet, or roughly 72 football fields, the West Edmonton Mall eclipses it with an area of 5.3 million square feet. However, in 2006, the Mall of America hosted 40 million shoppers, while the West Edmonton Mall hosted a paltry 22 million. If you want to find the largest malls in the world, you need look no further than South Asia. Eight of the ten largest malls in the world are located there. The West Edmonton Mall still makes the top ten, as does a mall in Turkey, but the Mall of America doesn’t even make the world’s top ten list these days. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check it out though, it’s size will still blow your mind.

Lake Itasca – Source of the Mississippi River

3. Minnesota is home to the source of the mighty Mississippi River. The river begins at Lake Itasca in Northern Minnesota, just southwest of Bemidji, MN. The Mississippi ranks as the 14th longest River in the world, with its sister river, the Missouri, right behind it at 15th.

4. Minnesota is the birthplace of many products found in many American households. A short list of notable Minnesota inventions is Scotch Tape and Masking Tape, Wheaties Cereal, Water Skis, Kitty Litter, the cardiac pacemaker, Rollerblades, the bundt pan, Spam, Tonka Trucks and Post-It Notes.

5. The Minneapolis Public Library was the first to have a dedicated children’s section in 1889, and it still has the largest collection of children’s books in the upper Midwest including materials in 30 different languages.

Minneapolis

6. As of 2009, the University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities campus was the sixth largest university campus in the nation by enrollment with approximately 51,000 students. Among the more famous and successful University of Minnesota attendees are former vice presidents Hubert Humphrey and Walter Mondale, former congressman and three time presidential candidate Eugene McCarthy, Earl Bakken, inventor of the cardiac pacemaker, Bob Dylan and Henry Fonda, neither of which graduated, and baseball legends Paul Molitor and Dave Winfield, among many others. The U of M boasts five Pulitzer Prize winning writers and musicians including Robert Penn Warren, the author of All the King’s Men, as well as seven Nobel Laureates.

Duluth, MN

7. The Port of Duluth, Minnesota can be reached from the Atlantic Ocean entirely by water.

8. St. Paul’s original name was Pig’s Eye. This unflattering name was given to the area by Pierre “Pig’s Eye” Parrant in 1838. Parrant built the area’s first structure, which he called the “whiskey seller’s cabin” at the mouth of a cave along the Mississippi River near present day downtown St. Paul. A retired fur trader and a man of dubious reputation, Parrant was known as Pig’s Eye due to the fact that he had a patch over one eye, and the remaining eye had a distinct white ring around its pupil, giving it a look that was viewed as piggish. However dubious and unattractive he was, Parrant became a successful businessman when he opened his Pig’s Eye Tavern in 1838. Since the Pig’s Eye Tavern was actually a bootlegging outpost, his enterprise lasted only two short years as soldiers from nearby Fort Snelling forced old Pig’s Eye Parrant out of business. A decade later, the Minnesota Territory was formalized and the area was renamed St. Paul.

9. Downtown Minneapolis has skyways, a system of glass tunnels located one or two stories above ground, that link 69 city blocks. The Minneapolis skyway system is 8 miles in total length and connects the second and third floors of banks, restaurants, hotels, and the corporate and government buildings that make up downtown. Hovering majestically above the downtown streets, the skyway system is designed to allow pedestrians to live, eat, work and shop without going outside. If you’ve ever spent a winter in Minnesota, you’ll understand why the city went to such great lengths to protect its citizens from the elements. Among the more popular venues you can reach via the skyway system are The Target Center, where the Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx basketball teams play, the IDS Building and its Crystal Court, the Orpheum Theater, The Minneapolis Convention Center and the Historic State Theater.

10. The world’s largest ball of twine made by one man calls Darwin Minnesota its home. Its obsessive creator, Francis A. Johnson started wrapping twine in March of 1950 and continued developing his masterpiece over a span of 39 years. It’s said that Johnson wound twine around the ever growing ball for an amazing four hours every day for 23 weeks straight when he first started, though it’s hard to say where he got enough twine to create his nearly 9 ton, 13 foot diameter ball. As the twine ball grew, Johnson enlisted the help of a crane to lift the ball and continue with its proper wrapping. After Johnson’s death in 1989, the city of Darwin moved the ball from its open air shed on Johnson’s front lawn to a specially constructed gazebo on Darwin’s main street. If you stop to see it you’ll also be treated to a volunteer-run museum full of eclectic items and more information on the creation of the twine ball. One of the items in the museum is another record: made completely out of basswood, Francis Johnson created the largest set of handcrafted pliers in the world made by one man. We’re not joking. The largest of these wooden pliers, standing seven feet tall, is so intricately carved that there are an additional 25 smaller pliers hatching from its handles, each one slightly smaller than the next. The smallest pliers Johnson carved are made from a matchstick. Perhaps the most amazing thing about the pliers is that no glue or nails were used in their construction, they were hewn from solid wood and each one opens and closes like a real set of pliers. On second thought, the most amazing thing about Johnson’s pliers is that he made TENS OF THOUSANDS OF THEM! I bet nobody ever told this guy to get a hobby.