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The United States flag flies over Historic Fort Snelling in Minneapolis, Minn. At left is the fort's Round Tower. (c) J.S. Reinitz 2014

The United States flag flies over Historic Fort Snelling in Minneapolis, Minn. At left is the fort’s Round Tower. (c) J.S. Reinitz 2014

Perched on a bluff over the intersection of the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers, Fort Snelling is an outpost that long outlived its original purpose.

In the 1820s, long before Minnesota was a state, the fur trade was the cornerstone of commerce in the new world. The fort was built to protect the industry.

Not more than a few decades later, the fur bubble had burst, and Fort Snelling took up other roles. It oversaw the uprooting and relocation of Native American tribes in the area and acted as an induction station for the U.S. Army during every major conflict through World War II.

It was decommissioned in 1946 and designated a historic landmark in 1960.

Today, the fort’s historic buildings have been restored as a museum that’s manned by a small army of reenactment soldiers. They even have a cannon.

Photo: For Czale

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For sale sign on a Czechoslovakia mural. The phone number has been obscured preclude unwanted calls. (c) J.S. Reinitz

For sale sign on a Czechoslovakia mural. The phone number has been obscured preclude unwanted calls. (c) J.S. Reinitz

Mural with a map for former Czechoslovakia. (c) J.S. Reinitz

Mural with a map for former Czechoslovakia. (c) J.S. Reinitz

As turmoil continues to spread in Ukraine, we found it interesting that a former Eastern Bloc country that dissolved in 1992 is being offered for sale by a Minnesota real estate firm.  The sign (which has the phone number redacted) didn’t mention the price, but we assume the listing includes the following selling points:

— Zoned Commercial, residential and agricultural.

— 1,366,041,600 square feet. Will subdivide on request.

— Nice view of the Carpathian Mountains.

— Access to the Danube River.

Book on caves

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For Fathers Day, my kids got me a book that I’ve had my eye on for awhile — Iowa Underground: A Guide to the State’s Subterranean Treasures. I first encountered it a number of years ago on Google books, and then it appeared on the shelves of a local big-box bookstore.

Written by Greg Brick, a Minnesota geology professor, the tome highlights several caves on public lands, complete with history, gear recommendations and directions. It has a few of my favorite haunts, a lot of locations I knew about but have yet to explore and even a few new caverns.

In the spirit of Fathers Day, I plan to use the book to inspire my kids to go off on adventures.

Published by Trail Books, 223 pages. (6.17.12)