A Numismatic Summer Road Trip #9

​At some point we need to break free from the East Coast, so this week we are taking a big hop — to Northfield, Minnesota. In fact, as the crow flies it is about 915 miles and if you are driving it is just over 1,100. But, the good thing about a virtual road trip is that travel logistics don’t really matter.

Northfield, Minnesota, located on the Cannon River just south of the twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, is home to two colleges and offers lots to do including a wide variety of arts and entertainment events and outdoor pursuits in all seasons.

But our numismatic focus is the First National Bank of Northfield. The bank was established in 1872 and on September 7, 1876, was the target of the James-Younger Gang, whose most famous member was, of course, Jesse James. When the gang attempted to rob the bank, local citizens resisted and the theft was thwarted. As the gang members tried to escape some were killed in the street, others were hunted down, and captured or killed. Only the James brothers, Jesse and Frank, escaped. In the process two innocent townspeople were killed, one an employee inside the bank and the other a Swedish immigrant who was gunned down on the street outside.

While the two James brothers continued their lives of crime, some consider the Northfield bank robbery, far from their “comfort zone” to the south, to be the beginning of the end of their criminal careers. At least, the citizens of Northfield, Minnesota consider it so and celebrate it every September when they hold the Defeat of Jesse James Days. This festival includes raid re-enactments, a carnival, a parade, an arts and crafts fair and an antique tractor pull among other events. (

And, if you are looking for a more numismatic connection (and that is the focus of this blog), in 1975 the Northfield Historical Society bought the old First National Bank building and restored it to its 1876 appearance. Now it is a museum open to visitors and offers tours and exhibits. (

Additional Attractions in Northfield:

Cowling Arboretum. (

Northfield’s two colleges, Carleton and St. Olaf’s, offer many art, music and drama events. However, the summer months offer fewer of these than the regular school year. (;

Riverwalk Market Fair — Saturdays June to October (

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