The top of the tree

River pre-1900s
Image from Hennepin History Museum’s collection.

Logging was an integral part of life in Minneapolis during the 19th century. This photograph was taken near 34th Avenue North on the west bank of the Mississippi River, looking toward the east bank. The Republic Elevator can be seen in the distance. By the 1870s, Minneapolis had become a major logging center thanks to its proximity to white pine forests, rail connections and the river. The lumber industry worked year-round. Heated “hot ponds” kept the water and logs from freezing and enabled the frenetic pace of converting logs into lumber to continue unabated. The lumber shown here is being sorted. By the turn of the century, Minneapolis was the world’s biggest lumber market. By the 1920s, however, Minnesota’s forests had been largely depleted, and the sawmills of North and Northeast Minneapolis had closed their doors for good.

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