This Minnesota Ghost Town Had Hopes To Become State Capital
Dakota County is just a short drive to the north and is home to part of Northfield, and great smaller communities like Miesville, Randolph, Castle Rock, and Sciota. The Capital of Minnesota is just to the North and West of Dakota County with the City of St. Paul. But what if the now ghost town of Nininger had accomplished what it's founder had set out to do? Claim the honor of being the Capital city of Minnesota. It all starts back in 1856 with the territorial governor's brother-in-law.
Nininger was located twenty-five miles south of St. Paul near present-day Hastings. The story of its rise and fall is typical of many of the boom towns that sprang up in places like Minnesota Territory during the mid-nineteenth century.
The town of Nininger was named for its founder, John Nininger. A St. Paul and Philadelphia businessman with real estate interests in Minnesota. Nininger also happened to be the territorial Governor's brother-in-law. Nininger was joined in his quest to found the town that hopefully would become the Capital with business partner Ignatius Donnelly.
On October 1, 1856, the two began selling land on a site they felt would become a commercial hub in Minnesota due to its location on the Mississippi River. Donnelly himself even moved to Nininger in late 1856.
Donnelly actually was Nininger's most famous resident as he went on to a U.S. Congressman, populist writer, and amateur scientist. He is known primarily now for his theories concerning Atlantis, Catastrophism (especially the idea of an ancient impact event affecting ancient civilizations), and Shakespearean authorship, which many modern historians consider being pseudoscience and pseudohistory.
It all started off well with its population reaching nearly 1,000 by the spring of 1858. But the city did not flourish, due to the financial crisis of 1857. Finally by 1889, 33 years after it's founding, the town didn't have enough residents to warrant a post office and it was officially closed.
Today there are only two plaques that hold any mention of the failed Minnesota state Capital. The two plaques describe Good Templars Hall, as it now stands in the Little Log House Pioneer Village, and a marker that stands near where Ignatius L. Donnelly's home once stood on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River.
Welcome to Nininger, home to the Xcel Energy Center and the Nininger Saints who play at CHS Field. I think we can stick with St. Paul...