Facts About Minnesota

Are you ready to learn five absolutely facts about Minnesota? We hope so, because these are little-known (and shocking) facts that may just have you saying, “Uff da!” 

Did you catch the date of when this article was posted? Hehe. Just a havin’ a little fun on one of our fave holidays: April Fool’s Day.

1. Paul Bunyan was the first Governor of Minnesota

We’ve all heard of the giant lumberjack and his pal Babe, but did you know the folk hero was the first Governor of Minnesota? That’s right! Before Henry H. Sibley, there was the lovable logger in the red plaid shirt. He was a champion for workers’ rights and fought tirelessly to develop the forests of northern Minnesota.

That got us thinking…who do you think would win in a wrestling match: Governor Paul Bunyan or Governor Jesse Ventura?

2. Bob Dylan and Prince collaborated on a gospel album

In the early 1990s, Star Tribune writer Jon Bream announced an exclusive: Bob Dylan and Prince had teamed up and were working on a gospel album. The duo was said to be writing songs that were, “not quite folk and not quite funk…but somewhere in the middle”. 

Record labels and fans were shocked at news of the unlikely collab, but sadly, fans would have to wait: as of today, no release date has ever been announced and the music sits gathering dust in a vault in Chanhassen, Minnesota.

3. Lutefisk and hotdish is served instead of communion at some Lutheran churches

Bread and wine, the Lord’s Prayer. It’s a tradition well-known by churchgoers around the world, but did you know in some Lutheran churches in Minnesota the sacred meal has been replaced by more regional favorites? It’s true!

In these communities, “This is my body given to you…and this is my blood shed for you…” is followed by a spoonful of tater tot hotdish, washed down with a bite of lutefisk. 

The practice was first proposed by Pastor Ole Bjornson on April 1, 1969. A large snowstorm had prevented the arrival of wine and bread, so Pastor Ole had to improvise. His wife Lena Bjornson was making tater tot hotdish and they always had lutefisk on hand. That’s when desperation turned to inspiration!

Parishioners were reluctant at first, but soon the practice was embraced by all. The tradition spread throughout the region and is still practiced by some Lutherans today.

Spending time in Minnesota? Discover our Top 10 Travel Picks for visiting Minneapolis! Don’t miss our expert travel guide here: https://jackandkitty.com/2023/02/minneapolis-travel-guide-2023 – it’s actually real…not fake…like the article you’re currently reading. Hehe.

4. There’s an underground tunnel beneath the Mississippi River

Did you know that the University of Minnesota built an underground tunnel, or in this case, an under-river tunnel well below the Mississippi River? It’s true! Constructed in 1851 and dubbed the Alexander Ramsey Tunnel, it connects the East Bank and West Bank campuses. Although not used by students, it is a convenient way for professors and other staff members to safely avoid walks in cold weather.

5. The Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge is powered by mirrors

A landmark in the port city of Duluth, the Aerial Lift Bridge is iconic. Many a selfie has been taken with the historic bridge as a cheery background. Built in 1905 and reconstructed in 1929, it’s a charming sight. But there’s a shocking secret in the chilly waters of Duluth: it’s not a bridge at all!

Architects Thomas F. McGilbray and C.A.P. Turner worked with the City of Duluth to install a vast network of mirrors spanning the Duluth Ship Canal, which simply give the illusion of movement. The Aerial Lift Bridge has never lifted a day in its life: it simply looks like it does. Genius! 

Well, there you have it. Our list of shocking little-known facts about Minnesota. Thanks for reading and have a super day!

Make the most of your time in Minnesota! Click here for a FREE COPY of our new eBook, or you can support us by purchasing it on Amazon.

About the Authors
Jack and Kitty Norton are Emmy Award winning travel experts. They have spent a lifetime on the road: as traveling musicians, documentary filmmakers and television producers. They now focus on writing for their travel blog (JackAndKitty.com) and making fun videos for their YouTube channel. Jack and Kitty offer travelers fun and quirky things to do in Minnesota, the Midwest and beyond. High school sweethearts turned married soulmates, the couple lives in the small college town of Winona, Minnesota and would love to have you over for some hotdish.

Let's Chat! Leave a Friendly Comment or Thought :)