July–August 2021

Posts from the past

Vintage postcards show Minnesota's outdoors at its best.

Keith Goetzman

Technicolor sunsets. Glistening waterfalls. Stringers full of fish. Postcards from Minnesota’s wild places have historically played up the beauty, abundance, and mythology of the land of lakes. Now a niche item at the souvenir shop, postcards were once a vital form of vacation communication, a snail-mail Instagram that boasted of the sender’s travels to the resort, the wilderness, the Paul Bunyan statue. Commercially sold cards often presented a tourism-bureau view of a region’s amenities, promising spectacular vistas and fish and wildlife galore. Customized cards, using a personal or commissioned photograph, often provided a more intimate and revealing glimpse into outdoor leisure and adventure. To find this selection of vintage Minnesota postcards, Minnesota Conservation Volunteer went to the collectors. We attended a pre-pandemic show of the Twin City Postcard Club, then browsed the enormous postcard stash of collector/seller Jerry Peterson at the 7th Avenue Antique Mall in North St. Paul. Thumbing through boxes of cards, we soaked up the nostalgia and wonder emanating from these paper-and-ink time capsules.