Northfield Historical Society’s Bank Museum is the site of the infamous James-Younger Bank Raid, an event historians agree was the beginning of the end of Jesse James’ storied outlaw career. The fully restored bank sits in the center of Northfield’s handsome, historic district that surrounds the community square and overlooks the picturesque Cannon River. Our permanent exhibit, which includes the restored bank interior, brings the bank raid to life. The exhibit not only outlines the dramatic events of that fateful day, but provides insight into how the politics and events of the day converged to bring eight desperate brigands to Northfield on Sept. 7, 1876.
There are many other stories to tell about Northfield’s growth and development. Northfield Historical Society does that each year through a series of rotating exhibits and programs. Northfield’s formative years were nurtured by New England settlers who brought with them a progressive spirit and an appreciation for education and civic engagement. Northfield is now home to two nationally-known liberal arts colleges. Our exhibits talk about the contributions Carleton College and St. Olaf College have made to the community. They also talk about the railroads, the evolution of our telephone system, the early cinema, our involvement in the Dakota Conflict of 1862 and more of what shaped the community and its people.
Milling, then dairy farming sustained Northfield for the latter half of the 19th century, and then an abiding ingenuity allowed industry to develop along the banks of the Cannon River. The Fey brothers were building their own horseless carriages around the turn of the century. Malt-O-Meal developed a cereal brand now sold internationally. Sheldahl, now Multek, was a pioneer in flexible circuitry, and Northfield has incubated a number of high-tech companies that are meeting the challenges of the 21st century.
Northfield is a fascinating community, one that celebrates the arts. Every Saturday during the summer, the riverfront and Bridge Square is teeming with artisans, music and food vendors. Each night, accomplished musicians provide great music in the pubs and coffeehouses scattered about town.
Come visit Northfield, Minnesota. It is a great place to visit and a great place to live.