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Minnesota: North Star State

JOINED UNION: May 11, 1858
STATE FLOWER: Lady's Slipper
MEANING OF STATE NAME: Based on the Dakota Sioux Indian word for "sky-tinted water," referring to the Minnesota River or the state's many lakes
1992 POPULATION: 4,480,034
LAND AREA: 79,617 square miles
ECONOMY: Publishing (calendars and law books), trading (the Minneapolis Grain Exchange), forest products, iron ore, agriculture, livestock, tourism
HISTORY: Also known as the "land of 10,000 lakes," Minnesota supported Santee, Sioux, and Dakota Indian fishermen. The region was explored in the 1600s by fur traders and missionaries from French Canada, just north of the area. In 1763, the British claimed the area east of the Mississippi River and this area went to the U.S. after the American Revolution. In 1803, the French portion joined America with the Louisiana Purchase. Sioux Indians revolted with bloody fighting in 1862 and were driven out of Minnesota. Today, Minnesota is a favorite destination for those seeking fishing and solitude on the state's many bodies of water.

Charles Lindbergh: The Lone Eagle 1927


Though shy with people, Charles Lindbergh was not shy about flying, and his transatlantic voyage thrilled the world. Lindbergh was born in Detroit, Michigan, and raised on a farm near Little Falls, Minnesota. At age 18 he began attending the University of Wisconsin, but after two years quit to become a daredevil stunt flyer.

In 1924 he enlisted in the U.S. Army so he could train as a pilot, and in 1925 began flying mail between St. Louis and Chicago. While making the mail runs, he decided to attempt the premier aviation challenge of his day. New York hotel owner Raymond Orteig had offered $25,000 to the first person to fly nonstop from New York to Paris, and Lindbergh thought he could do it. Several flyers had been killed or injured attempting the flight, but that didn't discourage Lindbergh. He persuaded nine St. Louis businessmen to finance a plane incorporating features of his own design. In their honor he called the craft the "Spirit of St. Louis."

When it was finished, he flew the Spirit of St. Louis from San Diego to New York (with a stop-over in St. Louis) on May 10-11, 1927. It was a record for the transcontinental flight.

Then, just before 8 a.m. on May 20, Lindbergh took off from Roosevelt Field in New York and headed east across the Atlantic Ocean. He landed at Le Bourget Field, near Paris, in the evening of May 21.

Thousands cheered his arrival. The press called him "Lucky Lindy," and the "Lone Eagle." The French government awarded him the French Cross of the L‚gion d'Honneur; Great Britain gave him the Royal Air Force Cross, and the United States awarded him the Congressional Medal of Honor and the first-ever Distinguished Flying Cross.

Later, Lindbergh flew a good-will mission throughout Latin America and wrote of his transatlantic trip in his book "We." Unfortunately, his fame also brought him great heartache by making his family an attractive target for criminals. In 1932 his son, Charles, was kidnapped and murdered.

Prior to the United States entry into World War II, Lindbergh criticized what he considered the country's drift toward involvement in the conflict, but after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, he gave himself wholeheartedly to the fight -- in fact, too wholeheartedly.

Lindbergh repeatedly -- and effectively -- flew combat missions in the South Pacific. The only problem was that he was a civilian and so it was illegal for him to participate in military actions. But with the tacit approval of local military commanders he continued doing so until forbidden by higher authorities. Lindbergh's "Spirit of St. Louis" is now on display at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C.


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