7000 BCE

The last of the mile-high glacial ice sheet that had covered Minnesota for two million years melts, leaving behind more than 11,000 lakes, most of which are geologically identified as kettle or “ice block” lakes.


Indigenous Dakota, Ojibwe, Ho-Chunk, and other tribes survive the depressed temperatures of the “Little Ice Age” with heated stone floors, houses wrapped in birch bark, and animal-skin door coverings.


St. Paul lures architect A. C. Hutchison away from Montreal to build a grand ice palace for the Winter Carnival. The resulting castle is one of the first buildings to be electrically illuminated in St. Paul, and 150,000 people pay a quarter each to walk through it.


After a January snowfall, Sven Stevenson’s outhouse slides down a hill and skitters across the top of Lake Minnewaska before creating a hole in the ice and coming to rest atop it. Stevenson fetches his rod and reel—the ice-fishing shack is born!


German immigrant and locksmith John Strauss starts making ice skates on the side. Strauss’s hand-cut, flexible skates are such a hit that, 132 years later, his Maplewood shop lives on as likely the oldest sporting goods store in America. 


The Saturday Evening Post publishes “The Ice Palace,” a short story by upstart wordsmith F. Scott Fitzgerald. In it, Sally Carrol Happer, a southern belle, visits her fiancé’s native Minnesota, only to be frozen out of his social circle.


St. Paul skating buddies Eddie Shipstad and Oscar Johnson concoct a traveling variety show featuring soloists, chorus girls, and elaborate props. The Ice Follies debuts in Tulsa and effectively introduces figure skating to the country. 


Frederick McKinley Jones invents a portable refrigeration unit, and his company, Thermo King, revolutionizes the perishable-freight industry. Jones is dubbed “the Black Thomas Edison” and “King of Cool.”


Marvin Schwan loads up a refrigerated truck with 14 gallons of his father’s ice cream and sells it door to door. The rest is frozen-dinner history.


Two cryptozoologists certify the carcass of a 1.8-meter-tall hirsute male hominid as Homo pongoides, a new species of Neanderthal. Alas, instead of being evidence of a real-life Bigfoot, the “Minnesota Iceman” turns out to be a fake.


Herb Brooks coaches a ragtag group of college kids to a 4–3 win over the Soviet Union in an Olympic hockey upset so improbable it is dubbed the “Miracle on Ice.”   


Top Gun’s once and future Iceman, Val Kilmer, cometh to Minneapolis to perform as Orlando in the Guthrie’s As You Like It.


Will Steger leads a dogsledding team to the North Pole. His teammate Ann Bancroft becomes the first woman to reach the pole by sled and foot. Three years later, Steger flips his pole goals and leads the first dogsled team to cross Antarctica. 


Agents from ICE descend upon Swift meatpacking plants across the country, including one plant in Worthington. Nearly 1,300 employees are ultimately arrested nationwide in what is one of the largest single-day police actions in U.S. history.


The U.S. Patent Office allows International Falls to trademark the nickname “Icebox of the Nation,” thereby throwing cold water on the decades-long tug of war over the title with decidedly balmier Fraser, Colorado.


A dilapidated Minneapolis warehouse that was formerly Cedar Fuel and Ice—an ice purveyor that harvested 75,000 tons of ice per year in its heyday—is redeveloped into Icehouse, a very chill new music venue.  


University of Minnesota researcher Lesley Knoll authors a paper studying how cultural ecosystem services—think pond hockey and ice-fishing tournaments—are being affected as climate change reduces lake and river ice cover.

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