Sky Blue Water
Minnesota gets its name from the Dakota word minisota, meaning water that reflects the sky. Centuries ago, that is what the Dakota named the river now called the Minnesota River.
About 10,000 years ago, most of this area was covered by glaciers more than a mile thick. As the glaciers melted, many lakes and rivers were created.
Minnesota today has more shoreline than California, Florida, and Hawaii combined! We are known on our license plates as the Land of 10,000 Lakes, but Minnesota actually has 12,000 lakes, three-fourths of which are 4 hectares (10 acres) or more in size year round. The world's third largest river, the Mississippi, begins its 2,552-mile journey at Lake Itasca in northern Minnesota.
Here is a curious fact: Minnesota's waters flow outward in three directions: north to Hudson Bay in Canada, east to the Atlantic Ocean, and south to the Gulf of Mexico.
Minnesota is also known as the Gopher State. There are varying interpretations about the source of the nickname. Some say it comes from the gophers commonly found in the southern part of the state; others say it is from a political cartoon in the 19th century that depicted dishonest railroad union organizers as gophers. Minnesota is also known as the North Star State, a translation of the French inscription on the state seal, L'Etoile du Nord.