NORTHFIELD, MN: “COWS, COLLEGES, CONTENTMENT” AND JESSE JAMES

Northfield , Minnesota is a RiverTown with a population of 20,000 and it is located within two Minnesota Counties – Rice and Dakota.  The Cannon River runs through it and sometimes when there are heavy rains it runs over it!  (Not Really, but this weekend it looks pretty threatening.)  River walkways follow the river on both sides.  You will find a lot of shops and boutiques in Northfield.

And when when the rains come….September 23, 2016

Like many Minnesota River Towns Northfield was built on lumber and water powered flour mills.  Unlike many River Towns Northfield still has a bit of the mill history left.  If you are one of the rise and shine people that have a bowl of Malt O Meal for breakfast, you are eating a bowl of Northfield’s past and present.  Malt O Meal is still made in Northfield and is the sole survivor of the wheat boom there.

MALT O MEAL

Northfield was founded in 1855 by John W North and Norwegian-American immigrants from New England who called themselves Yankees.  Many of the buildings have been preserved and represent architecture of the 19th and early 20th century. What I like best are the pathways between some of the buildings that have steps down to the river walkway.

The City’s motto is “Cows, Colleges and Contentment”.  The beef operations are no longer predominant in region, but it is home to one of the most prestigious colleges in the Midwest – Carleton College.  It is also home to St. Olaf College.  Both colleges contribute to the common cultural and historical heritage of the town.

Northfield’s real claim to fame, however, is not its architecture, its colleges, its river or its economic stability.  They are best known for the events of September 7th, 1876.  That is the day the Jesse James-Younger Gang rode into Northfield and attempted to rob the First National Bank.   Their plan was thwarted and it turned out to be the last bank they robbed or rather attempted to rob.  Killed in the raid were the bank cashier who attempted to stall the “boys” by telling them the vault was on a timer  (it was not), a Swedish immigrant who was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and 2 members of the gang.   The Younger boys were captured near Madelia and James and Frank escaped into the Dakotas.

Every September on the weekend after Labor Day Northfield holds a festival called the Defeat of Jesse James Days.  Thousands of people descend on Northfield to witness the re-enactment of the bank robbery.  The festsival includes a championship rodeo, parade, car show, carnival, musical performances and an arts and craft fair.  In addition to the food vendors there are some wonderful restaurants in Northfield and many have patios that overlook the river.

Here is the highlight of the festival!

 

I love the Juried Arts and Craft vendors.  I rarely highlight one on my blog but every once in awhile there is a special person with a special talent.  Layl McDill is one of those special people.  She sculptures are magical and you can watch her for hours create her whimsical characters.

Check out her website:  http://www.claysquared.com

Northfield is a very special little town — One you will want to visit there soon and often!

 

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