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        Minnesota | Activity 3.1: Settlement of the Detroit Lakes Area

        Students watch a video about the settlement of the Detroit Lakes region. Students explain why it was beneficial for pioneers to settle and build railroads near the Detroit Lakes. Expand the lesson by having students also create an advertisement for the Detroit Lakes area.

        Lesson Summary

        Students watch a video about the settlement of the Detroit Lakes region. Students explain why it was beneficial for pioneers to settle and build railroads near the Detroit Lakes. Expand the lesson by having students also create an advertisement for the Detroit Lakes area.

        This lesson is part of "Minnesota | Unit 3: Upper Mississippi European Exploration and Settlement" which explores the question of what was gained and what was lost by both American Indians and settlers as the groups encountered each other throughout American history.

        Time Allotment

        20 minutes

        Learning Objectives

        Standard: 

        6.4.4.18.1: Describe how and why the United States claimed and settled the upper Mississippi River region in the early nineteenth century; explain the impact of steamboat transportation and settlement on the physical, social and cultural landscapes.

        Supplies

        Directions

        1. Tell students they will be watching a video about the settlement of the Detroit Lakes area hosted by the Becker County Historical Society. First, distribute the Settlement of the Detroit Lakes Area handout and ask students to read over the questions they will be answering after the video.

        1. Play the video Becker County Historical Society and Museum: Detroit Lakes, MN | Prairie Mosaic Shorts until 4:25.

        1. Explain to students that the primary means of travel at the time included horse, boat, and train. Small shipments and packages could be transported by horseback/carriage. Large shipments had to be transported by boat or train.

        1. Ask students to complete the worksheet and list three types of goods that could be transported by each of the transportation methods listed. Then, have students answer the rest of questions on the handout.

        Answer Key

        1. Pioneers thought settling near the Detroit Lakes was a good idea because there was so much water; they were surrounded by lakes and rivers. Railroads were also built here early on, so with both railroads in place and boats on the waterways, settlers had easy access to shipments of goods. [2:05]

        2. Building railroads near the Detroit Lakes area was a good idea because the combination of boats and trains meant people and goods could be transported a larger distance in a faster amount of time. [2:39]

        3. One of the jobs in the Detroit Lakes area was harvesting ice that would be shipped via railroad. It was difficult work to be out in below zero temperatures harvesting ice from the lake. [3:11]

        4. The lakes froze during the winter and provided a large amount of ice, which also meant a lot of jobs for people over the winter. There was enough ice for about 110 people to work for six to eight weeks. [3:25]

        5. The building of railroads allowed many people to find more types of jobs such as harvesting ice and transporting passengers/goods. The area was quick and easy to access by train, and therefore, more people settled in the area to produce goods and provide services as well as to relax.

        Expand the Lesson (20 minutes):

        Materials Needed

        • Construction paper

        • Markers, crayons, or colored pencils

        Ask students to imagine being a real estate agent for the Detroit Lakes area. Have students think about the great features of the Detroit Lakes area described in the video and in their responses to the above questions. Ask students to use crayons or markers and construction paper to create an advertisement for plots of land in the Detroit Lakes area.

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