15 Fascinating Facts About Minnesota

Minnesota boasts the biggest ball of twine, weighing in at a whopping 17,400 pounds!

Known as the “Land of 10,000 Lakes” and also referred to as the “Gopher State,” the “North Star State,” the “Agate State,” the “True North,” and the “State of Hockey,” Minnesota became the 32nd state to join the United States on May 11, 1858.

As of 2019, the state has a population of 5,639,632 people, ranking it as the 22nd most populous state in the country.

Minnesota is bordered by five states: South Dakota, North Dakota, Michigan, Iowa, and Wisconsin, and covers a total area of 86,950 square miles (225,163 square kilometers), making it the 12th largest state in the US.

The state capital is Saint Paul, located in the southeast region of Minnesota.

While those are some quick facts about the “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” let’s dive into some of the more fascinating ones!

The State’s Name Has Two Different Translations

There’s some debate surrounding the translation of the state’s name, and it’s a debate that may never be settled.

The state of Minnesota was named after the Minnesota river, which was named after the Dakota people’s name for it, mní sóta.

However, there are two different translations of mní sóta: one translates to “clear blue water,” while the other translates to “cloudy water.”

Legend has it that early settlers demonstrated the river’s name by pouring milk into the water and saying the words mní sóta.

Minnesota Has Been Inhabited for Over 11,000 Years

Most of North America was settled around 9,000 BC, but there’s little archaeological evidence to support this.

However, in Minnesota, the Browns Valley Man, a well-preserved human skeleton dating back to the Paleo-Indian era, was discovered, dating back 11,000 years.

The first people to settle in the Americas were the Paleo-Indians, who crossed from Russia into Alaska via the Bering Strait around 12,000 BC.

Minnesota Had Many Tribal Settlements Before Europeans Arrived

The first archaeological evidence for permanent settlement in Minnesota dates back to 3000 BC.

By 700 BC, the first burial mounds were being built, a tradition seen throughout North America.

Around 800 AD, the cultivation of wild rice and corn led to the growth of larger settlements in Minnesota. The region was home to many different tribes with unique cultures, including the Dakota people, who were the largest Sioux nation. Other tribes in the area included the A’ani, Ioway, Ho-Chunk, and smaller tribes along Lake Superior.

The first Europeans to explore the region were fur traders, but it’s unclear who was the first to set foot in Minnesota. French explorers and fur traders Pierre Esprit Radisson and Médard des Groseilliers likely made contact with the Dakota people in what is now Wisconsin. The first European to reach Minnesota was French explorer and Jesuit missionary Claude Allouez, who created a map of the area in 1671.

Minnesota changed hands multiple times before coming under US control. The French claimed the region as part of their territory, La Louisiane, and a number of European powers fought for control during the Seven Years’ War. Spain gained control of France’s land west of the Mississippi River, including parts of Minnesota, until it was returned to France in 1802. France promptly sold La Louisiane to the newly formed United States in 1803.

The first US settlement in Minnesota was Fort Snelling, built by Zebulon Pike in 1825. The fort mediated conflicts between the local Dakota people and the Ojibwe people, who had migrated to the region in the mid-1700s. Finally, Minnesota’s state capital was originally named after a moonshiner, and the Red River Colony was founded in the early 1800s along the USA and British North America border.

After the founding of the colony, many residents left but instead of returning north or to Europe, they settled outside Fort Snelling and founded the village of Pigs Eye, named after Pierre “Pig’s Eye” Parrant, a notable moonshine maker. The town was later named Lambert’s Landing and then Saint Paul, which became the state capital in 1858. Saint Paul and Minneapolis, known as the Twin Cities, are located on either side of the Mississippi River and have a strong rivalry. Although Saint Paul grew in size as the state capital, Minneapolis grew larger due to its industrial abilities. Minnesota has a significant population of timberwolves, second only to Alaska. Minnesota’s original constitution had two different signed copies due to disagreements between the Democrat and Republican parties. The source of the Mississippi River is found in Minnesota, which was discovered back in the 1800s.

In 1832, Henry Schoolcraft, an American geographer and geologist, successfully located the source of the Mississippi River, which had previously eluded other explorers. He was aided in his quest by the local Ojibwa people, and he ultimately found the source at a lake he named Itasca, despite its local name of Omashkooz.

Minnesota was the site of the largest mass execution in American history, following a war between the Dakota people and white settlers. The war lasted six weeks, and when it ended, 38 Dakota men were hung to death in Mankato.

The Northwest Angle, a piece of land in Lake of the Woods County, is the northernmost point of Minnesota and can only be accessed by water or by crossing into Canada.

Minnesota is known for its friendly residents, a phenomenon dubbed “Minnesota Nice,” although some argue that it is more about avoiding confrontations.

Darwin, Minnesota, is home to the largest ball of twine made by one person. Francis A. Johnson spent nearly 30 years rolling the ball until it weighed 17,400 pounds.

Minnesota can be deceiving at first glance. With its welcoming residents and location in the northern part of the country, it may easily be confused with Canada. However, this perception quickly changes when one encounters unique attractions like Darwin’s impressive ball of twine or the extensive Mall of America.


1. What is Minnesota known for?

Minnesota is known for its beautiful lakes, vibrant music scene, and delicious cuisine. It is also known for being home to the Mall of America, which is the largest shopping mall in the United States.

2. What are some famous landmarks in Minnesota?

Some famous landmarks in Minnesota include the iconic Spoonbridge and Cherry sculpture at the Walker Art Center, the Split Rock Lighthouse on Lake Superior, and the historic Stone Arch Bridge in Minneapolis.

3. What is the state bird of Minnesota?

The state bird of Minnesota is the common loon. Known for its distinctive call, the common loon is a beloved symbol of the state’s natural beauty.

4. What is the weather like in Minnesota?

Minnesota has a humid continental climate, which means that it experiences cold winters and warm summers. The state is also known for its unpredictable weather, with snow and thunderstorms often occurring in the same week.

5. What are some famous people from Minnesota?

Minnesota has produced many famous people, including musician Prince, author F. Scott Fitzgerald, and actress Jessica Lange. The state is also home to many successful athletes, including basketball player Kevin Garnett and hockey player Zach Parise.

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