|| had about 8000 year-round
residents and 4500 college
either St. Olaf or the "other" place in town, Carleton College. The
town is a classic midwestern town with a walking downtown filled with
19th century buildings, and tree lined streets with quiet sub-divisons.
For 14 years we only locked our doors when leaving town. The town was
founded in the 1850s by settlers from the Northeast, especially western
New York. They quickly built a lyceum, founded a college (Carleton),
and built a series of churches, including one on which I've written a
book and several articles. It is a class ic example of a 19th century
rural gothic church (built 1865). Recently Hallmark, Inc. used the
church as a model for one of its china buildings in their "Snow
Village" series. The founder of Northfield, John Wesley North was
financially hurt in the Panic of 1857 and after the Civil War he became
one of the founders of Riverside, CA. He is buried in Riverside. As the
old "Northeastern" settlers moved on in the 1870s Norwegian migration
to Minnesota increased. Many settled outside Northfield in an area
known as "Norway Valley." They, too, founded a college in Northfield
|The Canon River powered
early mills which made Northfield a prosperous town. By 1876 when Jesse
James, Cole Younger and the rest of their gang
tried to rob the Northfield National Bank, the buildings surrounding
Bridge Square were stone or brick. The bank robbery was a complete
disaster for the gang, and a bright moment in history for the
town. Today the bank site is a museum interpreting both the raid and
the general history of Northfield. (I used to be on its board).
Northfield became an education center, and is also known for
being the home of Ole Rolvaag (who wrote "Giants in the Earth"
and taught at St. Olaf). Thorstein Veblen, the economist who
wrote "The Theory of the Leisure Class" grew up nearby
and attended Carleton.
Northfielders (and most Minnesotans) do a lot with music and theater
and love libraries. You would too, if you lived where there could be
100 inches of snow a year!