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The Minnesota ​Territorial Pioneers

Established May 11, 1897-Incorporated1897

Minnesota Nicknames

The Minnesota

​Territorial Pioneers

Established May 11, 1897 – Incorporated 1924

The Wheat State: This name pays tribute to Minnesota’s wheat crops.

New England of the West:  Because of the large number of New England natives in the territory, Minnesota was sometimes referred to as the “New England of the West.”

Fun Facts & State Symbols

The Gopher State: According to Minnesota in Three Centuries, 1908, “Minnesota received its most widely known sobriquet, “The Gopher State” from the striped gopher, a common species throughout our prairie region.”  It seems that there was some discussion in the middle of the 19th Century, before Minnesota became a state, about whether to call Minnesota “The Gopher State” or “The Beaver State.”  Opponents of “The Gopher State” called the striped gopher an insignificant animal with a destructive nature.  The striped gopher was too useless and undignified to represent the future great state of Minnesota.  Opponents of “The Beaver State” argued that the beaver, while numerous in streams, was not abundant enough to represent the whole of Minnesota.  A political cartoon, widely circulated throughout the territory, gave wider exposure to the gopher and “The Beaver State” faded into history.

Land of 10,000 Lakes: In fact, Minnesota is blessed with 11,842 lakes that are 10 acres or more in size.  When smaller sizes are included, the number can swell to 15,000 or more!  Minnesota’s license plates display the legend “10,000 Lakes.”

The North Star State:  Perhaps the most common nickname for Minnesota, “The North Star State” evolved from the State Motto L’Etoile du Nord or “Star of the North.”  The State Motto appears on the Great Seal of Minnesota and the State Flag.

The Bread and Butter State:  This name came into use at the Pan-American Exposition at Buffalo NY in 1902.  The superior wheat, flour, and dairy products of Minnesota caused the state to be referred to as “The Bread and Butter State.”