The Last Voyage of the Sea Wing


My grandmother has always been afraid of water. She once told me that her father lost some relatives in a Lake Pepin disaster and from that point on he was afraid of water. He would fish from shore, never went in a boat, and didn’t have his children learn how to swim – in turn he passed his fear on to his daughter. It wasn’t until the 1970s when she found a letter in a drawer...

Fort Snelling: Going Back in Time


Located in the heart of the Twin Cities where the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers converge, Fort Snelling State Park provides not only a quick nature escape, but also the opportunity to temporarily go back in time. When I walk through the park, I always find myself reflecting on the early days of Minnesota’s history and imagining what it must have been like for the first people living here...

History in Horticulture: The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum


“He taught both in scientific words and with dirt-stained hands….” – Jane McKinnon The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is the Upper Midwest’s largest public garden and is open 363 days a year. Part of the University of Minnesota, the earliest grounds were established in 1907 as the Horticultural Research Center. They developed cold-hardy crops and we have them to thank...

Ho Ho Ho… Green Giant!


Did you know that Minnesota is home to The Jolly Green Giant? When I started researching this, I hadn’t realized that there was a 55-foot tall fiberglass statue in Blue Earth, MN. I was aware of the enormous wooden sign of the Giant (with Sprout!) on Route 169 near Le Sueur, however. The few times we drove by when I was a kid, I remember waving at the sign enthusiastically and being amazed...

The Woman Behind Cafe Maude


One of the things I love about the local eateries in Minneapolis is that they often have a story, and usually they are stories I didn’t know. Cafe Maude in southwest Minneapolis, for example, was named after Maude Armatage, a woman basically forgotten to history. Enticed to do a little Googling, I learned that Maude was considered a driving force in helping Minneapolis come of age in the...

Historic Women: Who Was Hilma Berglund?


“One lifetime isn’t long enough for all the things I’d like to do.” ~ Hilma Berglund This quote stopped me in my tracks during a visit to the American Swedish Institute. This woman had so succinctly articulated my own sentiments, but who was Hilma Berglund? As is the case with many historic women, Hilma Berglund was the daughter of poor immigrants who came to America in the pursuit of a better...

New Treasures: The Shaving Mug


A leisurely afternoon recently spent in Faribault, Minnesota unearthed a new treasure that I was unfamiliar with: The Shaving Mug. We were exploring every nook and cranny of the Nook and Cranny when I came across what appeared to be an ingenious teacup: I was slightly confused by the cup’s decoration because a historic fire truck image seemed to be an odd choice for a teacup, but I still...

The Veterans Conservation Corps & Sibley State Park


The stock market crash of October 1929 sent the United States spiraling into the deepest economic downturn in history. When Franklin Delano Roosevelt took office on March 4,  1933, nearly half of the country’s banks had collapsed and between 13 and 15 million Americans were unemployed. FDR called the Congress into Emergency Session five days later and proposed the Emergency Conservation...

Heidi Van Heel

Heidi Van Heel

Writer, freelancer, and believer in magic living in Minneapolis. In my free time, I love reading, exploring the great outdoors, and experimenting in the kitchen.

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