Northfield, Minnesota is a vibrant 19th-century river town with a blend of unparalleled characteristics and opportunities to enjoy Minnesota at its best
Visit the Northfield Historical Society Museum and learn all about how the townspeople stopped the infamous Jesse James from robbing the town’s bank. Northfield is a perfect place for a getaway with family or friends - there's plenty of shopping, dining and places to just hang out.
With Carleton College on the east and St. Olaf College on the west, Northfield is a hotbed for the arts. Head there to enjoy concerts, recitals, plays, galleries and several festivals. The scenic river valley and surrounding coutryside hold great possibility for sports enthusiasts, weekend athletes and nature-lovers alike.
A vibrant, 19th-century river town with a blend of unparalleled characteristics and opportunities to enjoy “Minnesota at its best!”
Come visit Jesse James Territory and learn more about this Midwest pioneer settlement whose citizens stopped the infamous Jesse James from robbing the town’s bank. Enjoy A Memorable Getaway with family or friends in an ideal location for shopping, playing and visiting the surrounding sites. Soak up The Abundant Arts featured in concerts, recitals, plays, galleries and festivals. Experience the pulse of college town life in this place of Two Colleges, One Town. Retreat to a locale that allows for both Business and Pleasure all in one trip. Get ready for Total Recreation with activities that appeal to sports enthusiasts, weekend athletes and nature-lovers alike.
Charming and sophisticated, historic and colorful, artsy and active, secluded and connected, quiet and happening…yes, Northfield captures all this and more. Visiting Northfield means a unique experience, whatever the reason or season.
If you are coming from the college [that would be Carleton:)] this is a bit of a walk down Division St. and in the small square in front of the Scrivner Building. A key element of Northfield's environment is the Cannon River, which runs through the town. I wonder if it still floods the baseball fields in the spring, leaving dead fish in its wake??
The spire in the distance is that of Willis Hall, the first permanent building on the Carleton Campus. The cornerstone was laid in 1869, three years after the founding of the college.
When I was attending Carleton it was the student union. Now it seems to be offices. It is kind of sad actually as there were big open lounges that have been carved up. It was to First Willis where I went after hearing that JFK had been shot and there I learned that he had died.
Forget about those other folks on the hill on the other side of the Cannon River. You can't walk there anyway!
The college is a short uphill walk from Division St. The campus is very attractive and there is a lovely Arboretum attached, which is part prairie, part forest.
Northfield is a charming town with both cool and old-time shops on the main street. But the real show are the building facades. So be sure to look up to see some really wonderful historic late 19th century middle America architecture! Fortunately a lot of it was saved.
Lots of good information and exhibits as well as a small bookstore. It is in one of the oldest buildings in Northfield, the Scriver Building. This would be a good year to visit as they are celebrating the town's sesquicentennial!
Every year on the weekend following Labor Day Northfield hosts a community celebration known as the Defeat of Jesse James Days. Thousands of people from all over the upper Midwest come to Northfield during this weekend to see bank raid re-enactments, to browse at the craft show, to see the rodeo and to eat carnival food. Of course the kids love the rides that are set up along the banks of the Cannon River.
One thing to remember if you come to check out this celebration for yourself--it is the Defeat of Jesse James Days, not, I repeat not, Jesse James Days. The distinction is important. We do not celebrate the life of an outlaw, rather the courage of common townsfolks who took on the James/Younger Gang and stopped their thievery. The James Gang didn't collect a nickel as Joseph Lee Heywood refused to open the safe. Two of the gang were killed by the citizenry and three were sent to long prison sentences. Only Frank and Jesse James escaped and limped back to Missouri thoroughly beaten and humiliated by honest folks of Northfield, Minnesota.
I'm not really an artist or a theater person, but the Northfield Arts Guild does a tremendous job in promoting the arts in Northfield. There are several plays put on each year and this building houses both a dance studio and an art gallery. Quite an asset to the community. A non-profit organization run almost exclusively by volunteers.
Can you believe that in the early 1970s this gorgeous building was slated for demolition. A group of advanced-thinking residents rallied around the building and saved it for posterity.
St. Olaf is Northfield's second college. It was founded a few years after Carleton College and Northfield has maintained two of the best liberal arts colleges in the nation for over 125 years now.
St. Olaf is acclaimed for its internationally known choir. I have to admit that Oles know how to sing their hymns and choral pieces (they can even do gospel on occasion.)
But all in all, St. Olaf must bow before the superiority of Carleton. Don't just take my word for it--take a look at their fight song for yourself"
Um ya ya
Um ya ya
Um Ya ya
Um ya ya
I kid you not--they really do sing um ya ya, ad nauseum during their losing efforts at sporting events.
One of the perks that is granted to the Carleton College president is the use of this turn of the century house. The former pres mainly used it for receptions and dinners, but the current guy lives there.
A beautiful campus with lots of green spaces (except in winter, then a lot of white spaces!) In the spring and fall the college kids are often out frollicking with their frisbees. I like to take my golden retrievor. We sneak past the tennis courts and Sparky almost always comes home with a fresh tennis ball.
Built in 1896, this was the first library for the campus. It served that purpose until 1957 when it was turned into a classroom building. I remember those 8am classes ....
One of the most obvious buildings on the Carleton College campus is Skinner Chapel. Built in 1916, I spent many bored hours there attending required convocations.
This building was not the one that Jesse James and his gang tried to rob. I always thought it was a bit fun to have my money in a bank that managed to resist such an attempt!
The Northfield Area Veterans Memorial is in Bridge Square, so named because there is a bridge over the Cannon River at this point.