A map of MinnesotaMinnesota is located in the Midwest region of the United States. Its landscape has been largely shaped by the massive ice sheet, more than a kilometre (0.6 mile) thick, that once lay across much of northern North America. During the last phase of the Ice Ages, known as the Wisconsin glaciation, which ended around 12,000 years ago, the ice scoured the terrain. The melting ice left behind thousands of lakes, boulder-strewn hills and a thick covering of rich fertile soil, called glacial till, in all but the far southeast of Minnesota (an area called the Driftless Zone). Northeastern Minnesota, above Lake Superior, is part of the Canadian Shield, made up of the most ancient rocks on Earth. To the south and west are rolling hills, which give way to plains and the prairie croplands.
The name Minnesota comes from the Native American Dakota word for the Minnesota River, mnisota, meaning "clear blue water" or “clouded blue water”. The mni part of the word, also spelled mini or minne, means "water”. Many places in the state also have names connected to water, such as Minnehaha Falls ("laughing water”), Minnetonka ("big water") and Minneapolis, a combination of mni and polis, the ancient Greek word for "city”.
Palisade Head on Lake Superior, formed from ancient Precambrian rock
Ice Palace, built for the Saint Paul Winter Carnival of 1986. In 1885, a New York reporter described Saint Paul as "another...Read More >>Ice Palace, built for the Saint Paul Winter Carnival of 1986. In 1885, a New York reporter described Saint Paul as "another Siberia, unfit for human habitation" in winter. Offended by this attack on their city, the Saint Paul Chamber of Commerce staged the Saint Paul Winter Carnival, to prove that the city was very much alive during winter. First held in 1886, the Festival has been an annual event since 1946.
In 1898, a stone was found on a farm near Kensington, southwest of Alexandria. Inscribed on it were runes (ancient Viking writing) describing the adventures of a party of Norse explorers in 1362. Scholars, however, say the inscriptions are of more recent origin and that it is a hoax.
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