Robin and I had driven through Minneapolis during February of 1979 on our way to view the total solar eclipse in Minot, North Dakota, but we did not stop here at that time. I can still remember the prairie wind blowing snow right through the closed windows of her parents’ van as we drove it that last leg into the Dakotas; and the alternator on the van dying outside of Chicago in the early morning hours as we made our way back to Ohio, me driving on into the dawn because I was afraid to shut off the engine for fear it would not restart. I remember we parked outside an auto repair place at 5AM, too exhausted to go on, and slept in the cold van for three hours as we waited for them to open up shop and fix it.
But those are stories for another place and time. Today, cousin Susan graciously took me to downtown Minneapolis to show me the sights. For starters, a mural tribute to native son and rock legend Prince:
Mary Tyler Moore is also memorialized in downtown Minneapolis with this statue of her iconic pose.
I did not know that Bob Dylan was native to Minnesota, although apparently upon becoming famous, he left the state, never to return. I personally would go way out of my way to avoid hearing Bob Dylan sing, but I nevertheless admired this mural:
We also explored the skyways of Minneapolis, walkways connecting the second floors of all the major buildings downtown, such that you can traverse the entire downtown without ever stepping outdoors. These walkways were not particularly photogenic, but Susan said that people will use them assiduously in the winter to avoid walking the streets in the bitter cold.
Minneapolis is known, among other things, for the Kellogg cereal company and for being the original home of Pillsbury and Gold Medal flour. Those original factories are preserved along the Mississippi Riverfront; one has been converted to condos.
Apparently there was, 10,000 years ago, a waterfall on the Mississippi River in St. Paul which flowed over sandstone, the result being that the falls eroded over the millennia and so, like Niagara Falls in western upstate New York, gradually worked their way upstream. This falls is now in Minneapolis and was the engine which powered the flour mills and other industries along the river. Minneapolis has the only waterfall on the entire Mississippi River, which presents a problem if one wants to float goods upstream from there. The solution was to build a lock and dam so that barges could be floated over the falls in either direction. This lock/dam complex is a marvel of engineering, albeit not much to look at. The falls themselves, however, are quite scenic.
From here, we went to Fort Snelling, where I probably should have taken some photos. This fort is the location of a forced encampment of Native Americans after they staged a rebellion against Union forces in 1862; the Army rounded up the indigenous Dakota Sioux and imprisoned them in poverty on the island where the fort sits, and then in another year forced them twice to squeeze onto two small steamboats to move them west onto reservations in the Dakota territory. This is another, and most unsavory, chapter in the American story of European settlers’ mistreatment of the indigenous peoples, and Minneapolis is making a lot of effort to acknowledge the truth of this history and to attempt to honor the memory of the local Dakota Sioux. To this end there is a lovely rustic monument to the memory of those interned at the Fort Snelling concentration camp, well worth visiting — and I should have taken a photo of it. There is also an informative museum on the site.
This evening I was treated to a lovely, relaxing dinner cruise on the Mississippi in a refurbished steamboat, thus completing my first full day in Minneapolis.
We plan some more sightseeing tomorrow and will end the day at a Saints baseball game in St. Paul, the AAA minor league team of Major League Baseball’s Minneapolis Twins. After the game I will return to Elmo Lake Preserve, (where the Little Guy is parked, east of St. Paul) and spend the night in the camper so I can make an early start the next day back to Erin Hills for another Harvest Host overnight stay, on my way back to Cincinnati.