WPA Guide to Minnesota: The Federal Writers' Project Guide to 1930s Minnesota


In the 1930s, at the height of the Great Depression, the federal government put thousands of unemployed writers to work in the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Out of their efforts came the American Guide series, the first comprehensive guidebooks to the people, resources, and traditions of each state in the union. The WPA Guide to Minnesota is a candid, detailed, and lively introduction to the state and its people. Much has changed since the book's first publication in 1938 ...
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In the 1930s, at the height of the Great Depression, the federal government put thousands of unemployed writers to work in the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Out of their efforts came the American Guide series, the first comprehensive guidebooks to the people, resources, and traditions of each state in the union. The WPA Guide to Minnesota is a candid, detailed, and lively introduction to the state and its people. Much has changed since the book's first publication in 1938 when, as the authors noted, some Minnesotans could "clearly recall ... the sight of browsing buffalo herds, and the creaking of thong-tied Red River carts." But the book vividly recaptures the era when annual fishing licenses cost fifty cents, farmers ran barn dances for motoring town folk, Duluth was the headquarters of the Hay Fever Club of America, and the nearly new Foshay Tower loomed on the Minneapolis skyline.

The guide has much more than nostalgia to offer today's readers. Twenty auto tours and six city tours tell the stories of the state's people and places and offer a fascinating alternative to freeway travel. Essays on major themes such as native peoples, history, arts, transportation, and sports provide an authentic self-portrait of 1930s Minnesota in humorous, loving, and literary prose. This time-travelers' guide to Minnesota is an evocative reminder of the state's past and a challenge to contemporary readers who seek to find how that past lives on today. Special features include 20 road trips, 6 city tours, 15 boundary waters canoe trips, 12 maps, 22 drawings, an introduction by the renowned midwestern writer Frederick Manfred, a chronology, and a revised bibliography.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780873511858
  • Publisher: Minnesota Historical Society Press
  • Publication date: 8/28/2002
  • Pages: 548
  • Sales rank: 1,490,765
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

The Federal Writers Project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) was created by the federal government during the Great Depression to put thousands of unemployed writers to work.

Frederick Manfred was one of the most prolific and well-regarded novelists in the Upper Midwest

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Table of Contents

List of Maps xiii
Introduction xv
Using the Guide xxi
Preface xxiii
General Information xxv
Part I. Minnesota: Past and Present
Minnesota Today 3
Natural Setting 8
First Americans 27
Historical Survey 42
Wilderness to Commonwealth
Territorial Expansion
The New State
After 1900
Agriculture and Farm Life 68
Immigration and Racial Elements 74
Tides of Immigration
Racial Groups
Transportation 81
Industrial Development 89
Meat Packing
Commercial Fishing
Labor and Labor Relations
Education and Religion 110
Press and Radio 120
Sports and Recreation 126
The Arts 132
Part II. Minnesota: Cities and Towns
The Tale of Two Cities 153
Minneapolis 166
St. Paul 206
Duluth 235
St. Cloud 255
Winona 262
Rochester 270
Part III. Minnesota: Tours
Tour 1. (Port Arthur, Ontario)-Duluth-Pine City-St. Paul-Red Wing-Winona-La Crescent-(La Crosse, Wis.); [Ontario 61 and US 61] 281
Section a. Port Arthur-Duluth 282
Section b. Duluth-St. Paul 290
Section c. St. Paul-Wisconsin Line 297
Tour 2. Junction with State II-Bemidji-Wadena-Sauk Center-Willmar-Redwood Falls-Windom-Jackson-(Spencer, Iowa); [US 71] 307
Tour 3. Junction with US 53-Hibbing-Grand Rapids-Minneapolis-Mankato-Blue Earth-Elmore-(Fort Dodge, Iowa); [US 169] 318
Section a. Junction with US 53-Minneapolis 320
Section b. Minneapolis-Iowa Line 328
Tour 4. (Winnipeg, Manitoba)-Noyes-Crookston-Moorhead-Breckenridge-Ortonville-Pipestone-Luverne-(Sioux City, Iowa); [US 75] 334
Section a. Canadian Border (Noyes)-Moorhead 335
Section b. Moorhead-Ortonville 339
Section c. Ortonville-Iowa Line 340
Tour 5. (Ft. Frances, Ontario)-International Falls-Cook-Virginia-Eveleth-Duluth-(Superior, Wis.); [US 53] 343
Tour 6. (Ft. Frances, Ontario)-International Falls-Baudette-Warroad-Roseau-Greenbush-Donaldson-(Drayton, N. Dak.); [State 11] 348
Tour 7. (Superior, Wis.)-Duluth-Grand Rapids-Bemidji-Crookston-East Grand Forks-(Grand Forks, N. Dak.); [US 2] 356
Section a. Wisconsin Line (Duluth)-Bemidji 356
Section b. Bemidji-North Dakota Line 361
Tour 8. Junction with US 61-Finland-Ely-Tower-Cook; [State 1] 364
Tour 9. (Burr Oak, Iowa)-Rochester-Zumbrota-Twin Cities-Anoka-St. Cloud-Alexandria-Fergus Falls-Moorhead-(Fargo, N. Dak.); [US 52] 369
Section a. Iowa Line-Minneapolis 369
Section b. Minneapolis-North Dakota Line 375
Tour 10. (Hudson, Wis.)-Twin Cities-Delano-Litchfield-Willmar-Benson-Ortonville-(Aberdeen, S. Dak.); [US 12] 382
Tour 11. Twin Cities-Chaska-Granite Falls-Montevideo-Dawson-(Watertown, S. Dak.); [US 212] 388
Tour 12. (La Crosse, Wis.)-La Crescent-Winona-Rochester-Owatonna-Mankato-New Ulm-Tracy-Lake Benton-(Huron, S. Dak.); [US 14] 396
Tour 13. (La Crosse, Wis.)-La Crescent-Preston-Austin-Albert Lea-Blue Earth-Fairmont-Worthington-Luverne-(Sioux Falls, S. Dak.); [US 16] 407
Tour 14. Minneapolis-Farmington-Northfield-Faribault-Owatonna-Albert Lea-(Northwood, Iowa); [US 65] 417
Tour 15. Junction with US 61-Aitkin-Crosby-Brainerd-Motley; [US 210] 425
Tour 16. (Prescott, Wis.)-St. Paul-East St. Cloud-Little Falls-Staples-Detroit Lakes-Moorhead-(Fargo, N. Dak.); [US 10] 429
Tour 17. St. Vincent-Thief River Falls-Detroit Lakes-Fergus Falls-Montevideo-Marshall-Worthington-(Cherokee, Iowa); [US 59] 442
Section a. St. Vincent-Detroit Lakes 443
Section b. Detroit Lakes-Iowa Line 447
Tour 18. (Ellsworth, Wis.)-Red Wing-Lake City-Zumbro Falls Rochester-Spring Valley-(Waterloo, Iowa); [US 63] 451
Tour 19. (St. Croix Falls, Wis.)-Taylors Falls-Center City-Forest Lake-Minneapolis; [US 8] 453
Tour 20. Bemidji-Cass Lake-Walker-Brainerd-Little Falls; [US 371] 460
Superior National Forest and Canoe Trips 465
Canoe Trip 1. International Boundary Route from Gunflint Area 469
McFarland Lake
Mountain Lake
Rose Lake
Gunflint Lake
Saganaga Lake
Cypress Lake
Big Knife Lake
Prairie Portage
Upper Basswoods Falls
Table Rock or Skull and Crossbones Campsites
Crooked Lake
Iron Lake
Shortiss Island (Lac La Croix)
Near Coleman Island (Lac La Croix)
Group of Islands (on northwest end of Lac La Croix)
South end of Lac La Croix
Loon Lake
Vermilion Narrows
Canoe Trip 2. From Gunflint Area 471
East Bearskin Lake
Clearwater Lake
McFarland Lake
East Bearskin Lake
Canoe Trip 3. From Gunflint Area 472
Poplar Lake
Winchell Lake
Brule Lake
Cherokee Lake
Long Island Lake
Henson Lake
Poplar Lake
Canoe Trip 4. From Gunflint Area 473
Round Lake or Cross River
Tuscarora Lake
Little Saganaga Lake
Frazer Lake
Kekekabic Lake
Sea Gull Lake
Canoe Trip 5. From Gunflint Area 475
Sea Gull Lake
Red Rock Lake
Sea Gull Lake
Canoe Trip 6. From Gunflint Area 475
Sawbill Lake
Polly Lake
Little Saganaga Lake
Snip Lake
Cherokee Lake
Sawbill Lake
Canoe Trip 7. From Ely Area 477
Lake One
Lake Three
Hudson Lake
North Kawishiwi River
Polly Lake
Parent Lake
Isabella Lake
Isabella River
Bald Eagle Lake
South Kawishiwi River
Lake One
Canoe Trip 8. From Ely Area 479
White Iron Lake or Silver Rapids
Clear Lake
Birch Lake
White Iron Lake or Silver Rapids
Canoe Trip 9. From Ely Area 479
Fall Lake or Winton
Bass Wood Lake
Canoe Trip 10. From Ely Area 480
Burntside Lake
Fenske Lake
Grassy Lake
Murphy Lake
Canoe Trip 11. From Ely Area 481
Burntside Lake
Big Lake
Stuart Lake
Boulder River
Canoe Trip 12. From Ely Area 482
Burntside Lake
Cummings Lake
Moose Lake
Nina Moose Lake
Lake Agnes
Canoe Trip 13. From Ely Area 483
Moose Lake
Ensign Lake
Thomas Lake
Kekekabic Lake
Knife Lake
Canoe Trip 14. From Tower Area 484
Vermilion Lake
Little Trout Lake
Little Indian Sioux River Campsite
East Bay of Loon Lake
Lac La Croix
Canoe Trip 15. From Tower Area 485
Vermilion Lake
Vermilion Dam
Vermilion River
Crane Lake
Part IV. Appendices
Chronology 489
Suggestions for Further Reading 498
Index 504
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