In 1854, a group of German Americans settled in a scenic, tree-covered river valley in what would become south central Minnesota. They named their new community New Ulm, after the city of Ulm in southern Germany.
The settlers were determined to maintain their German heritage. They erected brick buildings on orderly streets, leaving plenty of room for gardens and parks. They built a Turner Hall, a traditionally German club where they could gather for education and physical fitness.
Boosted by the railroad, New Ulm welcomed thriving industries that included bricks, cigars, flour and of course, beer. The city’s breweries and taverns played such a critical role in its German fellowship that when Prohibition was enacted, residents held a funeral march through downtown. Luckily, some of those businesses survived. Today, New Ulm’s August Schell Brewing Co. is the nation’s second-oldest family-owned brewery.
The city’s history was not entirely peaceful, however. In 1862, while many men were off fighting in the Civil War, the U.S.-Dakota War made its way to New Ulm’s borders. The Indians, angered by a series of broken government promises and feeling desperate and threatened, twice attacked the city. Hundreds of people were killed and fires damaged many of the city’s original structures. Today, only three buildings from that period remain.
There are countless opportunities to relive the history of the New Ulm area. Contact us for an organized tour, or explore on your own, using this or other guides available at the Convention and Visitors Bureau.