Thursday, August 31, 2006

Events - Minnesota's 150th in 2008

In the year 2008, Minnesota will celebrate 150 years of statehood. In preparation for this momentous occasion, the Minnesota Historical Society is currently accepting nominations for the 150 most influential forces in the state's history. It could be people, places, things, or events, from the obscure to the wildly famous. Selected nominations will be featured in the "MN150" exhibit that will go on display in October of 2007 at the Minnesota History Center. If you have someone or something you would like to nominate, please submit your nominations here at their website.

Places - Milan

Milan, MN

In today's Minneapolis Star-Tribune, there was an article featuring the western Minnesota town of Milan. The weekly town newspaper, the Milan Standard, published its final edition this week after 103 years of publication. Milan, population 326, claimed to be the smallest town in Minnesota to publish a weekly newspaper, but it was determined that it was no longer economically viable to continue doing so. It is truly the end of an era in Milan.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Places - Buffalo

Buffalo, MN

Located about 40 minutes west of the Twin Cities on Minnesota Highway 55, Buffalo is a scenic and growing community. Settled in 1856, it sits along the shores of Buffalo Lake and has a beautiful park and walkway that allows you to take in the view. While the outskirts of town have become built up, Buffalo still has a bustling downtown area right by the lake which helps to maintain its small town charm. A little known fact is that that the town was not named for the buffalo (the mammal), but rather for the buffalo fish that inhabited the lake. To name a town after a fish; it doesn’t get any more Minnesotan than that!

For more information on Buffalo, MN, please check out the great website

Places - New Germany

New Germany, MN

One of the neat things about south-central Minnesota is that there are many pockets of European ethnicity. There were countless small communities established in the late 1800’s by various Europeans, including Norwegian, Swedish, Czech, and German settlers, to name a few. Located approximately 40 miles west of the Twin Cities and just off of Minnesota Highway 7, New Germany is such a place. Settled in 1865 by German immigrants, this quaint little town features a main street with a number of businesses, and they also have a rich baseball tradition dating back more than 100 years.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Restaurants - The Red Rooster

Long Lake, MN

Located just west of the Twin Cities and right on the main drag of US Highway 12 in the town of Long Lake, the The Red Rooster has been a fixture here since 1971. Cozy up to the bar and have a cold one with the locals, or have a seat in their beautiful knotty pine dining room for a really good meal. They have a full menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and are well known for their large and juicy hamburgers.

Places - Delano

Delano, MN

The city of Delano is located about a half an hour west of the Twin Cities on US Highway 12. Despite being encroached upon by the ever-expanding metro area, Delano still retains a lot of its small-town charm and heritage. An old river town sitting on the banks of the Crow River, there are still a lot of beautiful older buildings here. The impressive onion dome on the steeple of St. Peters’ Catholic Church towers over the town. It can be seen from miles away and creates an unmistakable skyline.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Restaurants - Gold Nugget

Minnetonka, MN

The Gold Nugget has been a fixture in Minnetonka's Glen Lake area for years. Have a seat in one of the old wooden booths and order up a cold one! This is the kind of small, neighborhood place where you would go when you are craving one of the best hamburgers the Twin Cities has to offer. And the french fries they serve are the real deal, too. Sadly, this landmark will be no more, as the Gold Nugget is closing soon to make room for a condo development. Get there while you still have the chance.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Restaurants - Schuller's Tavern

Golden Valley, MN

Schuller's Tavern is an honest to goodness roadhouse that has been a landmark in Golden Valley since the 1920's. Schuller's has featured live entertainment and dancing for decades, and they can serve up a mean plate of food, too. During the lunch hour, locals mix with corporate types from nearby businesses. Be sure to stop in for one of their legendary hot turkey sandwiches topped with mashed potatoes and gravy.

Events - Minnesota State Fair

St. Paul, MN

Late August always marks the beginning of the Minnesota State Fair. The fairgrounds located in the state capital of St. Paul become the destination of thousands of Minnesotans who come from far and wide to enjoy this annual, end-of-summer event. At the State fair you will find various exhibits, contests, live entertainment, amusement park rides, as well as many varieties of food skewered on a stick!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Places - Traverse, MN

Traverse, MN

In rural Minnesota farm country, it is not uncommon to see grain elevators towering over the vast fields of corn and beans. They are truly the focal point of the landscape, and that is certainly true here in Traverse, a small, unincorporated town just west of St. Peter. In years past, there was once a meat market here, as well as a small watering hole called the Traverse Bar, situated just across the road from the elevator.

Restaurants - Whiskey River

St. Peter, MN

Located on the banks of the Minnesota River just across the bridge from downtown St. Peter, you will find Whiskey River. Stop in for a drink at the bar, or to enjoy their varied menu of casual American fare consisting of delicious sandwiches, steaks, chops, seafood, and pasta. While you are there, try to be seated in “The View” room so you can take in the scenery of their beautiful garden that attracts songbirds, squirrels, deer, and even wild turkeys. Binoculars are provided for your viewing pleasure.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Restaurants - The Supper Club

The supper clubs of yesteryear

In last Friday's Minneapolis Star-Tribune, there was a great article about the "supper club," which is a rarity in the current restaurant scene. Supper clubs generally offered some combination of dining and entertainment. They started popping up in the 30's and 40's and were most common in the Upper Midwest. Menus consisted of your typical, unpretentious American fare like prime rib, steaks, chicken, ribs, breaded walleye, and "surf and turf" options. You would also see fancy cocktails like "grasshoppers" and "pink squirrels," and there was often music and dancing as well. Nowadays, many people consider these establishments to be nostalgic places. The article notes a few rural Minnesota supper clubs that are still managing to stay in operation in the ever expanding sea of chain restaurants.

Landmarks and History - Itasca State Park

Lake Itasca, MN

Itasca State Park is Minnesota's oldest state park, and a popular summer recreation destination. Located in the north-central part of the state, it is also famous for being the headwaters of the Mississippi River. There was a recent article in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune about Itasca State Park describing this season's dry conditions. While rain is certainly needed, the tourists have had nothing to complain about this summer.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Places - Five unincorporated Twin Cities towns

Bloomington Ferry, MN
Lake Netta, MN
Fletcher, MN
Minnetonka Mills, MN
Nowthen, MN

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune recently ran a story about five unincorporated Twin Cities towns that were once bustling communities in the early days of Hennepin and Anoka counties. While still appearing on some maps, these towns have essentially vanished and were subsequently swallowed up by the expanding metro area, but some interesting history remains. Towns discussed in the article (unfortunately, it is no longer available online) were Bloomington Ferry, Lake Netta, Fletcher, Minnetonka Mills, and the unusually named community of Nowthen.

For additional information on these towns and their histories, please visit the following websites:

Bloomington Ferry - City of Bloomington
Lake Netta - City of Ham Lake
Fletcher - Town of Hassan
Minnetonka Mills - City of Minnetonka
Nowthen - Nowthen Threshing Show

Monday, August 07, 2006

Places - Lake Calhoun

Minneapolis, MN

Lake Calhoun is located in the city of Minneapolis and is part of the "Chain of Lakes." It is a very popular destination for the variety of activities it provides (especially in the summer), as well as its spectacular views of the downtown skyline. There are even separate trails for bicyclists and pedestrians.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Food - Byerly's

Golden Valley, MN

Starting with Don Byerly's first store in Golden Valley in 1968, the Byerly's grocery stores pride themselves on offering quality products and excellent service in a classy atmosphere. Byerly's offers many products and services that are hard to locate in other stores, things such as dry aged prime beef, artisan breads and cheeses, olive and antipasti bars, even sushi for takeout. There are now 11 stores located in the Twin Cities and surrounding areas.

Restaurants - Nye's Polonaise Room

Minneapolis, MN

Looking for pierogies or kielbasa? A Minneapolis landmark, Nye's Polonaise Room has been serving up authentic Polish & American food since 1949. Not only can you go there for the food, cocktails, and the atmosphere, but music plays a big part of the experience as well. Put on your dancing shoes and boogie along with the "world's most dangerous polka band."

Friday, August 04, 2006

Landmarks and History - Stillwater Bridge

Stillwater, MN

Built in 1931, the Stillwater Bridge is vertical lift bridge that crosses the St. Croix River, connecting the cities of Stillwater, MN, and Houlton, WI. One of the few surviving examples of this type of bridge architecture, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Restaurants - 7 restaurants worth the drive

In today’s Minneapolis Star-Tribune, there was a nice article in the “Taste” section featuring seven restaurants in outstate Minnesota that are worth the drive. These restaurants are located in places like Avon, Winona, Waconia, or up along the North Shore. All offer their own original cuisine, most featuring local ingredients. Some serve up simple, hearty fare while others focus on a more upscale dining experience.