Written by callen60 on 14 Aug, 2007
Despite Johan Kohl's lament, it was inevitable that the power of the Mississippi's St. Anthony's Falls would be fully tapped. The River’s power was first harnessed for cutting lumber, although the soldiers at Fort Snelling also pioneered its use for grinding flour. Both industries were…Read More
Despite Johan Kohl's lament, it was inevitable that the power of the Mississippi's St. Anthony's Falls would be fully tapped. The River’s power was first harnessed for cutting lumber, although the soldiers at Fort Snelling also pioneered its use for grinding flour. Both industries were well established when Kohl lamented the falls' usurpation by commerce in the mid-1800s. Lumber eventually yielded the waterfront to grain, and the ruins of the milling industry are now preserved and explained in brand new Mill Ruins Park.The structures on the banks themselves are largely gone, although foundations and a few walls can be seen. A walkway runs along the west/south shore, with a large number of signs chronicling the growth and decay of mills and Minneapolis itself. Buildings behind the River, and along Washington Avenue, have been reclaimed for use, including the Mill City Museum, which is far more interesting than you might suppose--the history of the milling industry is the history of Minneapolis. The complex sits just behind the ruins of Washburn A, the huge complex built by the company that evolved into General Mills. This modern, celebrated factory exploded in 1889, taking the lives of a few dozen employees. The financial rewards of milling were too great not to rebuild, and the golden age began, as Minneapolis produced the flour that fed the nation, if not the world. Most of it came from the fields of the upper Midwest, but the flourmen used the railway to bring harvests from across the country. Maps of the country’s railways and bushels per year illustrate how they processed crops from across the country with the power provided by St. Anthony’s Falls. The men who ran the mills ran the state, with several serving terms as U.S. Senators at the peak of the milling industry.In the end, the development of electric power moved the center of the grain industry away from Minneapolis. By the 1930s, Buffalo had replaced the Twin Cities as the nation’s flour producing capital. General Mills maintained its headquarters here (and still does) but gradually reduced its presence on the river and at other area locations. The area sat abandoned for several decades, its status highlighted by a 1991 fire eerily reminiscent of the earlier Washburn A explosion. Mill Ruins Park preserves that original structure, with the jagged shell of the building open to the sky, its twisted beams now a setting for evening summer concerts and other activities. Exiting through the riverside door, be sure to note the lentil above the door that memorializes the nearly 20 victims of the explosions. It’s clear that this disaster shook the young city, calling into question the foundation that had driven its rapid growth and expansion.To your left are what now passes for the falls, both preserved and tamed by years of work by the Corps of Engineers. The locks are here, too, and the riverboat Minneapolis Queen docks further upstream, providing another chance for a river tour and a passage through the locks. To the right is the large green space that begins Mill Ruins Park, featuring pleasant gardens, thick green grass, and what has to be an artificial mound whose peak is reached via a gently climbing spiral path. As my afternoon wound to a close, I kicked off my sandals and took a steeper, greener path to the top. The cool grass felt great between my toes, and I gazed out over the river and all it had wrought before heading back down to meet my brother for dinner.Close
Written by karameister on 03 Aug, 2005
Minneapolis and Saint Paul have one of the highest bicycle-commuting populations in the country, which means that there is a wealth of bike shops to choose from. Which ones are the best or have the best selection? I frequent many of the area shops, and…Read More
Minneapolis and Saint Paul have one of the highest bicycle-commuting populations in the country, which means that there is a wealth of bike shops to choose from. Which ones are the best or have the best selection? I frequent many of the area shops, and here are some highlights of where to go for what you’re looking for.
There are two large locally-owned chains in the greater Twin Cities area: Erik’s Bike Shop and Penn Cycle. Erik’s has more locations, about 10 in all to Penn Cycle’s six. Penn Cycle has been around longer, though, almost 50 years to Erik’s almost 30. These shops have a wide selection of bikes, apparel, and accessories, as well as full-service repair shops. On the other hand, neither shop has many specialty bikes, so if you’re looking for a track bike or cruiser, these are not the places to go. In the off-season, Erik’s carries snowboards and Penn carries fitness equipment.
If you’re not interested in one of the larger shops, there are 10 or 15 smaller shops in the area. The advantage to smaller shops is the staff. Their knowledge is generally better since they all seem to ride regularly, and they can offer more suggestions. The downside is that their prices are sometimes higher, simply because they cannot sell the quantity that the big guys can.
Freewheel Bike: This fairly large shop is located on the West Bank of the University of Minnesota campus, at 1812 S. 6th St. Freewheel acts like one of the bigger stores - they have a wide selection and their prices are reasonable. They have a wide selection of mountain, road, and comfort bikes, and several different brands. The great perk that they offer is renting out their repair shop. For a small fee, you can use all of their tools and a stand to fix your bike yourself.
Behind Bars: This smaller shop was opened just over a year ago and has already earned the distinction of "Best Bike Shop" by the City Pages. Behind Bars is run by Chuck and his wife, Stephanie, and is located at 208 13th Ave. NE, in northeast Minneapolis. They specialize in track bikes, single-speeds, and lower-priced, but high-quality, racing bikes. Chuck does most of the mechanical work by himself and has been in the bicycle business at different shops for over 10 years. Behind Bars is the only bike shop you will find in northeast Minneapolis.
Gateway Cycle: This log cabin-style shop is located just across the street from the Gateway Bike Trail, at 6028 Hwy, 36 Blvd, N in Oakdale. They carry a number of larger brands and everything from road to comfort to BMX. Gateway is smaller than it looks from the outside, but if they don't carry an item or don't have it in stock, just ask! The employees are more than willing to place special orders. Even though the selection here isn't huge, the location is great if your bike acts up along the trail.
Now Bikes and Fitness: Now has two locations, one at 75 N. Snelling Ave. in Saint Paul and one at 3673 Lexington Ave. N. in Arden Hills. Now carries a wide range of... well, everything! They offer riding groups in summer and training classes in winter, so there's always something to do there. A word of warning, though: they don't always have a mechanic on-site, so your bike may not get fixed for a few days.
Flanders Brothers: If you don’t have at least $3000 to spend on a racing bike, don’t patronize Flanders. They carry only high-end equipment and gear, and the staff is ridiculously stuck up. This is a good place to go for custom racing fittings and expensive form-fit jerseys, but other than that, it’s not worth the trip. You can find Flanders Brothers at 2707 Lyndale Ave. in Minneapolis.
Bicycle Chain: This is a small neighborhood shop located at 1712 Lexington Ave. N. in St. Paul, just down the road from Como Park. The staff is friendly and they know what they are doing, but Bicycle Chain is highly overpriced. I bought a chain there for $20 that would cost $15 at any other store. Bicycle Chain also carries Litespeed, which is a brand that very few other shops in the area stock.
Grand Performance: This shop is centered on one brand – Bianchi. Grand Performance carries most of their bicycles, but focuses on the higher-end road bikes. They are not snobs, though. If you bring in your beater Target bikes, they’ll still fix it with a smile. The owner is almost always there, and he has a very friendly greyhound dog that hangs out in the store. Grand Performance is located at 1938 Grand Ave. in St. Paul.
County Cycles: This is a small shop in Roseville, just outside of both Minneapolis and Saint Paul, located at 2700 Lexington Ave. N. County Cycles carries many brands of bicycle equipment that most other places do not, like Louis Garneau, but they also carry more popular brands, like Bianchi. You'll want to go here if you want personal attention and friendly staff the moment you walk in the door, and a shop that's willing to lend you their tools to make your own fix.
So, if you're not interested in buying a bike, where can you go to rent one? Penn Cycle does rentals out of their Bloomington location, but only road and high-end mountain bikes. Your best option is probably Calhoun Cycle. They are located at 3342 Hennepin Ave. S., which is right off of Lake Calhoun. They sell mostly recumbent and folding bikes, but also rent bikes, and there are several bike trails nearby. Enjoy the ride!
Written by Truly Malin on 31 Jul, 2002
Ole, Sven, and Lars came into the bar. They were high-fiving each other, shouting, and generally having a celebration of some sort. "Line 'em up," Ole shouted as the party continued. They drank and carried on for hours. Finally the bartender’s curiosity got the better…Read More
Ole, Sven, and Lars came into the bar. They were high-fiving each other, shouting, and generally having a celebration of some sort. "Line 'em up," Ole shouted as the party continued. They drank and carried on for hours.
Finally the bartender’s curiosity got the better of him. "Just what are you celebrating?" he asked.
"51 days! We did it in 51 days!" they responded.
"What did you do in 51 days?" he probed.
"Put the puzzle together," they replied, "51 days and the box said 3-5 years!"
Dunn Bros. Coffee Shop and Scandinavian Bakery
I passed by Dunn Bros. a few times on my morning walk to work, intrigued by the sign outside reading ‘Scandinavian Bakery’ but entirely too frightened by what that might mean to go in. Finally I gave it a try, and then another, and then another! I didn’t feel right about moving on until I had tried each and every oddly-named and shaped pastry in the display case. Puffy Kolache, for example, comes in flavors like prune and poppy. Pulla rolls are like a sweet roll that’s been punched in the stomach. The resulting indentation is full of rock sugar and sliced almonds, while the dough is spiced with specks of cardamom. I’d never seen cardamon used outside of an Indian restaurant before. Cinnamon knots vied for shelf space with Munkkis, giant turnovers full of apple or cherry filling. Even traditional muffins are given an unusual spin – the little signs next to them read "Pina Colada" and "Monkey Bites".
Dunn Brothers is also one of the few places on Nicollet Mall where you can have lunch outdoors on a weekday without spending a fortune or an hour on line. They serve tasty but rich "calzones" with unusual fillings like salmon or roasted vegetables. The last time we visited, a free slice of raspberry torte was being given away with every entrée ordered. (Apparently a bakery customer hadn’t picked up his order). At lunch you can sample Scandinavian cookies as well, like the rich, delicious almond kringler – kind of like a Scandinavian biscotti sent from hell to destroy your diet.
8th Street Grill and Peter’s Grill
Peters: 114 S. 8th Street – 612-333-1981
8th Street: 800 Marquette Avenue – 612-349-5717
If you’re looking for an un-fussy dinner without a wait for a table, either of these grills will do. Both stay open later than most restaurants on Nicollet Mall – a plus when you’re working late and have to grab a quick bite before heading back to the office. Both look vaguely seedy from the outside, and both offer numerous well-placed television sets and absolutely typical cuisine. Peter’s has a certain unpretentious nostalgic charm; wisecracking, gum-cracking waitresses, 50’s-style diner food, and a respectable assortment of fried bar snacks to eat while you watch the game. But though 8th Street is completely lacking in charm of any kind, it became a home away from home for a while, thanks mostly to an excellent Minnesota Wild Rice and chicken soup, and a wonderful waitress who treated us like family. On our second visit, she not only remembered what we’d ordered for dinner the week before, but also what time we had arrived and what kind of beer we drank. On our third visit, she asked us why we kept coming back. We explained that nothing else was open at 8:45pm and she proceeded to write us a list of ten restaurants in downtown that are better than 8th Street Grill. Now that’s service.
990 Nicollet Mall
Trust me, you’ll enjoy the newspaper-inspired décor a lot more than the food at The Newsroom. I still don’t understand why my colleague ordered something called ‘paella pasta’ but I assure you it was as bad as it sounded. Pastas are unexceptional here, but it’s worth stopping by for a drink or appetizer just to check out the news headline themed t-shirts worn by the staff (such as, Front: "Bush Daughter arrested for underage drinking" Back: "And you thought YOU were having a bad day!"). During the day you can get lunch next door at "The Typo Deli" where the menu is filled with intentional typos.
831 Nicollet Mall
This is where Minnesotans take New Yorkers to impress them, and where locals on an expense account take clients to dinner. Zelo offers an eclectic Italian menu, not particularly authentic in homage to its Minnesota location. Walleye turns up in a panini, for example, though you’d never find one swimming in the Mediterranean. Décor is tastefully dark and subdued. The wait staff is gloriously attentive, though slightly rough around the edges. Apparently local celebrities like to hang out at Zelo. I didn’t recognize any, but needless to say I’m not sure what constitutes a local celebrity unless Mary Tyler Moore is in town. Dinner started out well with glorious salads and excellent bread, but the rest of the meal was uneven. My pasta disappointed – the sauce was spiked with large bitter chunks of undercooked garlic. A carpaccio appetizer and a New York strip steak were big hits with our group. The wine list was appropriately sophisticated, but I was annoyed when we ordered a 1997 Antinori Chianti (not cheap at $47!) and were served a 1998, an inferior year. A lame excuse was offered ("oh, we ran out of the ’97") and no change was made to the price. My rating? Not worth the price of admission.
The Warehouse District
Once upon a time, Minneapolis’s warehouse district was a booming center of industry, where sturdy turn-of-the-century brick buildings were constantly being filled and emptied of all manner of goods. Then things changed, and like so many warehouse districts, it fell into disrepair. Now this fourteen-block area, conveniently close to Downtown, has been revitalized through some canny renovations and the insertion of a few carefully chosen art galleries, boutiques, and nightclubs. Here’s the sad part - unfortunately the revitalization committee didn’t take a close look at who was buying their restaurant leases, and the area is now littered with dime-a-dozen upscale chain restaurants like Chevys (Mexico in a box), Copeland’s (New Orleans in a box) and a planned Olive Garden (Italian in ... you know the rest). So if you’re going to visit, go AFTER dinner!
Ole and Lena got married. On their honeymoon trip they were nearing Minneapolis when Ole put his hand on Lena's knee. Giggling, Lena said, "Ole, you can go farther if you vant to." So Ole drove to Duluth.
I’m pretty good about bringing a bag lunch…Read More
Ole and Lena got married. On their honeymoon trip they were nearing Minneapolis when Ole put his hand on Lena's knee.
Giggling, Lena said, "Ole, you can go farther if you vant to." So Ole drove to Duluth.
D’Amico and Sons
555 Nicollet Mall
The D’Amico brothers have a lock on fine Italian cuisine in the Minneapolis area with their upscale D’Amico Cucina restaurant. Those who can’t afford or don’t work near Cucina can dine on beautiful pizzas, exquisite sandwiches, or sumptuous pasta salads with gourmet details like strips of fresh basil and toasted pignolia nuts at cafeteria-style "D’Amico & Sons" in any of their 11 metro locations. I found one on Nicollet Mall and was delighted at the quality and quantity of food I could get for fewer than ten dollars. It’s fast, it’s air-conditioned (not that anyone cares in winter!), there are always tables free, and the food is truly a cut above.
The problem with Chipotle is it’s too popular. The line starts forming around 11:15am and by the time you are actually in the mood for a massive overstuffed burrito around noon or so, the line has snaked throughout the restaurant, out the door, through the outdoor seating, and is impeding pedestrian traffic on Nicollet Mall. Dinner is another story – you will have no more than a few minutes to contemplate the relative merits of hot tomatillo red chili salsa versus the medium roasted chili-corn salsa before you have to decide what to put in your custom-made 20oz burrito. Top it off with an ice-cold Corona for a low-cost spicy feast! At lunch or at dinner, Chipotle offers reasonably priced semi-authentic Mexican staples to a spice-deprived population. It’s no wonder their 19 locations are jam-packed at lunch. Vegetarians should be sure to ask for the vegetarian black beans – the pinto beans are made with meat. (all entrees are under $6 and some under $5)
D.Brians is a self-proclaimed "remarkable" deli. After three weeks of regularly lunching there I am still not sure just exactly what they think is so remarkable, except perhaps the exorbitant prices they charge for a tasty but tiny Styrofoam cup of soup that dares to declare itself "large'. Think of them as an upscale cafeteria. They have a respectable variety of foods, and their downtown locations are conveniently located on the skyway level of several office buildings. Vegetarians won't starve here, because several of their soups are not meat-based, including a very tasty vegetarian vegetable with beans, which is also low fat and low sodium (not that you’d notice). They also have delicious oversized cookies. Another plus is their ever-present Rice Krispie treats (Minnesotans are obsessed with these) which are made fresh every morning. But the real reason to lunch at D. Brian’s is that you are almost guaranteed a place to sit. Even groups of 4-5 can find a table without much hassle.
McCormick and Schmicks
800 Nicollet Mall
A client tricked me into taking him to lunch at McCormick & Schmicks by scheduling a noon meeting, then declaring how hungry he was when I arrived. I’m glad he did, because it’s a great place to hold a business lunch. In the summertime, diners at the outdoor tables are often serenaded by street musicians equipped with steel drums or a saxophone. But I prefer to sit inside, where a long row of comfortable booths can be closed off with thick green velvet curtains for maximum privacy. Only the waiter may interrupt, bearing tall glasses of iced tea, or a basket filled with warm sourdough bread. The menu is printed daily on oversized paper and lists more daily fresh seafood options than I could count, originating from locations from Long Island to Hawaii. At lunch, salads were crisp and generous, sandwiches were piled high, and all was right with the world.
I thought I had a real find on my hands and mentioned that I might bring the whole team there for a dinner. My client warned me that dinner wasn’t as good as lunch. I couldn’t imagine why - the ambiance was charming, wait staff even more so, and the food was great! So I ignored his warning and brought everyone back for dinner. Big mistake! The once-warm bread was cold, the busboys seemed to be gone for the night, and the food was more tired than our waitress, whose only reliable trait was her uncanny ability to forget what we had ordered. My co-workers are still haunted by the oyster stew (all of three oysters sitting in an undrinkable mixture of salt water and milk), a Hawaiian spearfish in a vile coconut curry sauce, and a dubious paella.
The only one at the table smiling was the boss, a seasoned traveler who never orders fish when in a land-locked state. He ordered and devoured a budget-busting 14oz steak. Me, I tried to order the same meal I’d had at lunch, a fantastic Caesar salad with grilled artichokes, but the grilled artichokes were not an option at dinner, so I had to settle for a soggy version of "the usual".
Now my boss might not have been aware that Minnesota is the land of 10,000 lakes, but his advice still holds. I checked the menu - none of the fishes on the "fresh list" actually hailed from Lake Superior on the day we dined there. And when I submitted my expense receipts the following week, I noticed that no one had ordered fish at our delicious lunch. A fish joint that serves lousy fish? Don’t ask me, I’m a vegetarian!
Ole’s son came home from school one day, very upset. "How come I haff the biggest feet in the 3rd grade?" he asked. "Is it becoss I’m Norvegian?"
"No, son" Ole replied. "It’s becoss you’re nineteen."
"So, what’s the local specialty?" we asked our hosts, hoping…Read More
Ole’s son came home from school one day, very upset. "How come I haff the biggest feet in the 3rd grade?" he asked. "Is it becoss I’m Norvegian?"
"No, son" Ole replied. "It’s becoss you’re nineteen."
Then there are the Scandinavian pastries, with intriguing names like ‘snickerdoodle’, ‘munkki’, ‘kolache’, and ‘pulla’. Though I’ve not yet sampled them all, my pants are straining at the waist from my efforts after only a few weeks here. Each pastry is an interesting diversion from the tastes and spices I’m used to – especially the cardamon-speckled pulla roll with its slices of almond and sprinkling of rock sugar - but none can hold a candle to a good old-fashioned all-American chocolate chip cookie.
Those wishing to get in touch with their Norwegian heritage (or lose some weight) may want to learn more about lutefisk, a by-all-accounts unspeakable combination of codfish and lye. As Clay Shirky reported eloquently in a now-cult-classic Usenet post:
"The moment every traveler lives for is the native dinner where, throwing caution to the wind and plunging into a local delicacy which ought by rights to be disgusting, one discovers that it is not only delicious but that it also contradicts a previously held prejudice about food, that it expands ones culinary horizons to include surprising new smells, tastes, and textures.
Lutefisk is not such a dish.
Lutefisk is instead pretty much what you'd expect of jellied cod; it is a foul and odiferous goo, whose gelatinous texture and rancid oily taste are locked in spirited competition to see which can be the more responsible for rendering the whole completely inedible."
The real culinary finding - the thing you must try if you want to experience the real Minnesota, is Minnesota Wild Rice and Chicken soup. The wild rice is grown upstate (I bet the growing season must be about three weeks long) and it is on every menu I looked at. My colleague Chris got so addicted he had to have it every day.
Vegetarians will not fare as well in Minneapolis as their carnivorous companions, although I was surprised to find that many restaurants have a veggie burger on the menu. Most Minnesotans, however, can’t imagine why you don’t just order the walleye and stop drawing attention to yourself. Fellow plant-eaters, I suggest you learn this important phrase in the local language: "I’ll have the Caesar Salad, no anchovies please"!
One day, Ole decided to take Lena for a drive in his new car. As they were driving through town, a policeman pulled them over and told Ole that he was doing 50 mph in a 30 mph zone.
"Oh, no", Ole protested, "I vas only…Read More
One day, Ole decided to take Lena for a drive in his new car. As they were driving through town, a policeman pulled them over and told Ole that he was doing 50 mph in a 30 mph zone.
"Oh, no", Ole protested, "I vas only doing thirty, Officer."
"No, you were doing fifty", replied the cop.
"Really, Officer, I vas only doing thirty", Ole replied stubbornly.
"Well", sniffed the cop, "I clocked you doing fifty!"
At that point, Lena, sitting in the back seat and trying to be helpful, spoke up. "Officer...you really shouldn't argue vit Ole ven he's been drinking."
I had all of two days’ notice at work, so preparations for the trip were hurried. As a result, for the first time in my life, I boarded a plane not knowing exactly where I was going to land. References to shared borders with states I didn’t even know were near each other, like Iowa and Wisconsin, were worrisome. Where on earth was I going?
I was going just south of the Canadian border, to a state that still had significant snow on the ground in late April and an airport that sported that most stereotypical of Grain Belt attributes: a tornado shelter. I was going from "The Big Apple" to a city that is - and only a New Yorker can appreciate how depressing this is - known as "The Mini-Apple".
Making matters worse, my trip centered on the business district, an approximately eight square block region known as "Downtown" - and believe me, that got old quick. Most Minneapolis residents drive in to work there daily but yours truly was car-less and sentenced to live in an assortment of downtown hotels. Fortunately my trusty Skyway map, now in tatters from overuse, was a lifesaver and before long I had become an expert at finding my way around the turns and intersections.
One colleague quipped that Minnesota has only two seasons: winter, and road maintenance. This is more truth than humor; the city streets were buckled and cracked from winter frost heaves, and over the course of my stay, our office building became completely encircled by construction crews, until the only way in and out was through … you guessed it, the Skyway!
I did make a point of taking at least one trip out of town, though. How could I skip a visit to the granddaddy of all attractions and largest mall in the USA, the Mall of America? Built like a stack of rectangular donuts, the mall’s four levels of stores overlook an immense seven acre central atrium called "Camp Snoopy" in which roller coasters zoom by on overhead tracks, a tilt-a-whirl shakes and jiggles its cargo of screaming kids-of-all-ages, a fake log full of visitors whizzes around water-filled flumes, and hordes of families wander in and out of mini theme parks like the Lego Imagination Center (more lego bricks than you could buy in a lifetime!) and General Mills’ Cereal Adventure (make your own personalized cereal!).
There’s even a wedding chapel – and judging from the amount of girls walking around in bridesmaid’s dresses on the Saturday I visited, it’s a busy one. The top floor is for grownups, featuring a fourteen-plex movie theater, an arcade stuffed with virtual reality games, a comedy club, bowling alley, and adult-themed restaurants like the obligatory Hard Rock Café and Hooters.
The basement is devoted to as much underwater excitement as you can fit in 1.2 million gallons of water. A 300-foot long plastic tunnel takes visitors under and through this immense aquarium. Not for the claustrophobic!
On the main levels you’ll find the usual mall regulars, plus a few unexpected outlets like the Betty Crocker Bakery store, a Tropicana restaurant in the food court ("I’ll have the orange juice grinder?"), and stores dedicated to Minnesotabilia (wild rice soup mix, Twins caps, and a lifetime supply of Sven and Ole joke books).
A millwright, a weaver, or a sawyer might also enjoy what perturbed me; but the spirits and saints have now been driven off, the charm sullied. City building and speculation fever, and the arch enemies of beauty in our time have taken over here and…Read More
A millwright, a weaver, or a sawyer might also enjoy what perturbed me; but the spirits and saints have now been driven off, the charm sullied. City building and speculation fever, and the arch enemies of beauty in our time have taken over here and are gradually turning the lovely haunts of nymphs and mermaids into a very prosaic millpond. The entire vicinity is on the verge of becoming a temple to the gods of manufacture and trade.—Johann Georg Kohl, Reisen im Nordwesten Vereinigten Staaten, 1857.It’s odd to find technology in disarray: it disturbs our assumptions that progress allows no backward steps. In some ways, we don’t even see an area that was once the cutting edge of commerce, prosperity, and machinery after it’s abandoned and left to the elements. That was the state of Minneapolis’ share of the Mississippi River when I came here over 20 years ago—the milling industry had ended, and the waterfront had been nearly deserted; a part of town that didn’t even exist any more.It was a waterfall that gave birth to Minneapolis, but the city it created had moved on. In the 1820s, soldiers from Fort Snelling came upriver to use St. Anthony’s Falls to power first a sawmill and then a small grist mill for those at the fort. Over the next several decades, commercial ventures of both kinds sprang up along both shores, prompting Kohl’s prophetic lament.Despite the Mississippi’s length, these are the only falls of note along its entire course. That must have contributed to the romantic descriptions that briefly made them a 19th century destination before Kohl’s vision came to pass. The disappointment that several visitors expressed may also have stemmed from the nearly constantly changing nature of the falls: for over 10,000 years, they receded from their original location downstream near the future site of Fort Snelling, moving upriver at a few feet per year. This rate accelerated as uses for the river proliferated in the mid 19th century, with the falls receding as much as 40’ in a single year.Use of the water not only destroyed the natural beauty of the falls, it threatened the falls themselves, as tunnels and dams constructed to use the waterpower gave way or were undermined by the River. Eventually, the newly formed Army Corps of Engineers was authorized to save the problem, and after 15 years they returned control of the falls to the millers and water companies whose excavations had nearly destroyed them.Now, the falls are managed by the Corps, who installed a lock years ago to extend passage on the Mississippi. A dike and dam preserve the limestone cap that creates the falls, but their man-made regularity makes them look like the ‘water project’ that they are. With the mills gone, lumbering no longer using the river as medium for transport, and steamships no longer plying their way along the Mississippi, it seems a good example of the permanent changes that our temporary economic activities leave across the earth’s surface.Close
Written by MilwVon on 16 Jan, 2007
This was a quick weekend getaway to visit one of those timeshare presentations near the Mall of America (MOA) in Bloomington, Minnesota (right by the twin cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis). For just 79 dollars, we got two nights at the Comfort Inn less…Read More
This was a quick weekend getaway to visit one of those timeshare presentations near the Mall of America (MOA) in Bloomington, Minnesota (right by the twin cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis). For just 79 dollars, we got two nights at the Comfort Inn less than a mile from MOA, plus $25 in a Visa gift card. It was worth our time to make the trip up here, especially since we had never seen or been inside the mall.Driving up from Iowa, it took us exactly 3 hours to reach Minneapolis. The crisp fall afternoon was especially nice for a road trip. Farmers throughout Iowa and Minnesota were working to bring in their corn crops. Soybeans must have been wrapped up last month. I was disappointed that we didn’t see prettier fall colors. Maybe it is just that we don’t have nice deciduous trees in this part of the Midwest. I know in Wisconsin and Virginia fall is all about the red and gold leaves in October.With the timeshare presentation behind us, we enjoyed a Saturday afternoon at the Mall of America. It took us forever to decide what to do for lunch since we really didn't want fast food or sub sandwiches. We finally found the seasonal "Creepy's Cafe" in the park area, which was appropriately themed for Halloween.On Saturday night, we thoroughly enjoyed dining at the Outback Restaurant that was located in the lobby level of our hotel. It was nice to enjoy adult beverages and not have to worry about driving home!There is the Mall of America shopping and amusement park, complete with many dining options and restaurants. If you are a shopper, this is the place for you. With over 500 stores and four large anchor department stores, you must be able to find whatever you seek or it simply does not exist.Our Comfort Inn hotel had a rack of tourist information fliers for everything from dinner theaters, art museums, and casinos to the infamous SPAM museum. The most interesting of the attractions was the American-Swedish Institute, located in downtown Minneapolis. Housed in the Trumblad Mansion founded in 1929, this elegant museum provides a glimpse into the lives of over 150 years of Swedes in Minnesota. Unfortunately, they were only open 1 to 5pm on Sunday so we had to pass. Had we planned it better, we could have visited on Saturday, when their visitors’ hours are from noon to 4pm.Minneapolis and the surrounding areas are very easily reached via Northwest Airlines or by car. We did the car thing, but almost all flights I take out of Des Moines include a side trip through the NWA Minneapolis hub. You can plan your flights through here to allow you enough time to take the light rail to MOA. Give yourself at least 4 hours!The light rail has really made Minneapolis a tourist and convention destination, as it also goes to the downtown area of the city. If you don’t want to rent a car, you can easily get by without one. I was in Minneapolis in the summer of 2004 for an industry meeting, and thoroughly enjoyed my time and experience without a car. The convention center, hotels, and a lot of wonderful restaurants are all within walking distance of one another!Close
Written by MilwVon on 14 Oct, 2006
As part of the Mall of America in Minneapolis, this bright indoor amusement park has rides for kids ages four to mid teens. There is one roller coaster that seemed to be a pretty decent ride, but since we had just had lunch we passed.…Read More
As part of the Mall of America in Minneapolis, this bright indoor amusement park has rides for kids ages four to mid teens. There is one roller coaster that seemed to be a pretty decent ride, but since we had just had lunch we passed. Many of the rides seemed too close together for my liking. I don’t know that I would have enjoyed spinning or flipping or going down a river canal feeling like I might be ejected into the neighboring ride.Make no mistake about it, kids were having fun! You could hear their laughter and shrill screams throughout the place. Older kids like young teenagers seemed to also enjoy hanging out with their buds, although there wasn’t that typical mall feeling of mall rats taking over the place. I think MOA security does a good job of making sure people stay on good behavior while here in this family oriented area. And speaking of families, I was impressed to see that they had two child care areas where you could drop off younger kids to have professional babysitting while moms and dads enjoyed the rides or other activities with kids old enough to have fun.All of the rides are priced based on points. The higher the points, the more costly is that ride. Individual point tickets are available as well as in point packages. A five point roller coaster would cost you approximately $4 at the 80 cents per point base price. For just $24.95 you can ride all you can ride, as many rides as you’d like for as many times as you can handle in one day. Season passes are also available: $79.95 for kids shorter than 47" and $99.95 for all who are four feet tall or more.Post Script: I had always heard and thought I knew this park to be called "Camp Snoopy" but wasn't sure why there were no references to that name anywhere in the Mall. Some Internet research did turn up that this amusement park was known as Camp Snoopy but no longer. I am guessing that is due to one of two reasons: (1) Knotts decided not to renew their naming sponsorship agreement and when Pepsi stepped up, a name change was in order . . . or (2) Camp Snoopy sounded to juvenile for the target audience that MOA wanted to appeal to.Then I found this piece on The Onion's Web site and the mystery was solved . . . www.theonion.com/content/node/31031. Good for a nice belly laugh, but that's about all.I guess I'm sticking to explanations 1 or 2 above.Close
Who would think a shopping mall is an “indoor theme park”?? Well that is how they market Mall of America, aka MOA. I suppose given that they do have a 30 ride indoor amusement park complete with arcade games, that would qualify it…Read More
Who would think a shopping mall is an “indoor theme park”?? Well that is how they market Mall of America, aka MOA. I suppose given that they do have a 30 ride indoor amusement park complete with arcade games, that would qualify it as a theme park. Or would it because the “theme” is shopping?? I guess I don’t know.Three floors, four huge department stores, and over 500 specialty stores; this place is a shop-a-holic’s dream destination. Unfortunately, I’m not much of a shopper and that many options send me on sensory overload. I mean really . . . how many shoe stores do you need? Famous Footwear and DSW Shoe Warehouse should be plenty! Twenty-five plus five athletic shoe stores are just too many. I guess if you can’t find the right style, color and size here, it simply does not exist!Bloomingdales, Macy’s, Sears and Nordstrom each anchor a corner of the mall. They say that if you walk the entire square of a floor of MOA, you will log about one mile. On this day, we did our mile’s worth on the second floor and called it a day, especially since we were not shopping for anything in particular. It was more of a “How can you go to Minneapolis for a weekend and NOT go see Mall of America?”It was a bit strange seeing a storefront for the local Native American casino, Mystic Lake. With over 100 black jack tables, slot machines and bingo it seemed to be a bit tame for our gambling interests. They have headline entertainment out there, however, with Kelly Clarkson performing on New Year’s Eve this year. Tickets are still available.MOA is a great destination if you want to get in your power shopping, given that it is very accessible from the Minneapolis Int’l Airport. Northwest is their hometown airline and does its civic duty in promoting local tourism for the mall. There is light rail from the airport out to MOA so leave your car in Milwaukee, Chicago, Des Moines or wherever in the Midwest you come from. Parking is a bit crazy so be prepared to jockey for a space . . . or do yourself a favor and consider using shuttles or other free transportation available in the area. We were at the Comfort Inn, who did have free transportation to and from MOA.Close