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FROM WISCONSIN TO MINNESOTA

Visiting the Twin Cities of Minneapolis & St. Paul and area

sunny 82 °F

(Wednesday) Leaving the Wisconsin Capitol of Madison with warm memories I traveled for about 5 hours in a northwesterly direction to the twin cities of Minneapolis & St. Paul in Minnesota. The land is rolling with gentle hills, forests, and lakes. Timbering was a huge industry in the latter 19th century. I will visit 3 couples while in the region, friends from my Keystone Advisory Board days and mutual friends. One of the couples generously invited me to park the MH in their driveway while exploring the Twin Cities.

(Thursday) Minneapolis and St. Paul have interesting histories. Separated by the Mississippi River with its headwaters 200 miles north of the Twin Cities it flows through town with a maximum width of about 100 yards. It, of course, has been harnessed for water power to its industries over the past 2 centuries. Industries such as saw mills, flour mills, etc. Today's cities have beautiful commercial areas downtown with high rise office towers and sports stadiums to support their teams. Professional teams are the Minnesota Twins baseball, Minnesota Vikings Football, Minnesota Timberwolves basketball, Minnesota Wild hockey, and Minnesota United soccer. In addition, there is the St. Paul Saints, minor league baseball. The University of Minnesota, a Division I football team competes with other major powerhouses in the Big Ten Conference.
After lunch at the Guthrie Theater of Arts we visited the Mill City Museum. The Museum is on the site of ruins of the former Gold Medal Flour Mill, in its heyday the largest flour mill in the world. It processed and refined grain to baking flour in its huge patented grinders employing hundreds of locals. It shipped flour around the world from the Duluth, MN port along Lake Superior, as well as, railway trains to ports east & west. Betty Crocker, the fictional person promoted the Gold Medal Brand for decades. General Mills consolidated Gold Medal and Pillsbury Mills in 1928 and at its peak produced 2 million pounds of flour a day. An explosion and subsequent fire caused by the milling dust destroyed it in 1992 & it closed. However, a not-for-profit foundation restored a portion of the building to create this museum to tell local industry's fascinating story.
In the evening we had dinner in the Cathedral district of St. Paul at a popular spot called W.A. Frost & Company restaurant. It is composed of 4 attached turn of the century (19th & 20th) brick storefront buildings attractively decorated with antiques, oriental rugs, tin ceilings, etc. creating a beautiful atmosphere in which to dine. Of course, openings have been made to the interior walls to create the dining space in a variety of rooms.

(Friday) Stillwater, WI, a small town of 18K has been voted 'One of the Best Small Towns in America' by Forbes Magazine, is a tourist destination for it is located on the St. Croix River. It separates WI and MN and has a rich history of lumbering. At its peak was the largest processor of timber in the world during the period of 1870-1890. With 10 saw mills operating 24 hours a day and use of the St. Croix River to transport its lumber on barges to the nearby Mississippi River a world transportation network supported its commerce. Tragically, over-harvesting the forests led to its demise. Today, there are paddle-wheel riverboat cruises and we opted for a luncheon cruise on this beautiful day. We also opted for a narrated trolley tour which told of the city's rich history while driving by some of the beautiful mansions built by the lumber barons of long ago. Many have been restored to their original beauty and are now Bed & Breakfast facilities.
The twin city area, not being that far from the Canadian border was a magnet for bootleggers during the Prohibition era of the 20' & 30's. Speak-easys were abundant and it attracted such people as Al Capone, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Sinclair Lewis, and other notables to the city during that 'Flapper Era'. One of their favorite hotels was 'The Commodore'. A tornado caused its closure but in recent years it has been renovated into condos in the upper floors and a restaurant on the ground floor. Decorated in the original motif of the Flapper Era with photos lining the walls from Fitzgerald's 'The Great Gadsby', and scores of prints, they were also able to save the original bar from that period. Dinner there was delightful and 'very civilized', as a friend would describe it.

Plans are for a busy next few days as I prepare for my flight back to Albany, NY to see the boys, their wives, and the 5 grandkids in CT before attending my meetings in Albany on Aug. 9&10.

Posted by dixter 14:16 Archived in USA Tagged city visit twin

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