A Timeline of Environmental History and Activism in Minnesota

1861

Henry David Thoreau, the writer of Civil Disobedience, visits Minnesota on doctor’s orders to sample its thoroughly clean air. He roams the woods all-around Minnehaha Falls, cataloging the names of the indigenous flowers and birds. 


1869

An endeavor to tunnel underneath St. Anthony Falls collapses the waterfall, forming a harmful whirlpool that threatens the region’s most important electricity supply. Hundreds of volunteers fill the hole, and finally the Minneapolis Hearth Division diverts the water.


1890

Joseph A. Wheelock writes a letter in the St. Paul Pioneer Press urging conservation of the remaining stand of virgin pine trees all-around Lake Itasca. A year afterwards, Itasca will become Minnesota’s 1st condition park.


1902

The U.S. Common Land Business office sets apart 500,000 acres of public lands to create a forest reserve in northern Minnesota. In 1905 a different 141,000 acres are set apart, and in 1909 President Teddy

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