Northfield is famous as the city of “Cows, Colleges and Contentment,” but perhaps “Car-Buffs” should be added to tagline. Learn about Northfield’s surprisingly rich automotive history with the opening of “Northfield Wheels: An Automotive History,” an exhibit at the Northfield Historical Society Thursday, June 26, at 6:30 p.m. As part of the ongoing Northfield History Month celebration, admission to the museum will be free for the exhibit opening.
Museum patrons also will be able to take in car show (weather permitting) sponsored by the Sundowners Car Club along Division Street.
Northfield was quick to embrace the automobile. While Henry Ford was building his first car in the late 1890s, Fred Bates and the Fey brothers were crafting automobiles locally.
Car rallies were seen on Bridge Square by 1915 and the first automobile club was formed in 1927. By 1950 the town had seen no fewer than 27 dealerships selling 21 different car models. The DeMann family led the way in 1912, with one of the first Chevrolet agencies in the nation. Jens Johnson and Fred Bates had garages in town by 1905. The first service station appeared in 1919, and by 1933 motorists could choose from 15 within city limits.
The Northfield History Month celebration includes a number of events that will end with a festive fireworks display July 4. Remaining events are:
June 27: History Mystery Pub Crawl in Northfield
July 2: Books and Stars with the historic Fort Snelling Band
July 4: Vintage baseball game
July 4: Fireworks
In addition, local stores are displaying historic photos from the Save the Depot organization that document the history of railroads in the area.