Northfield — Where are the Cows?

January 28, 2007

The followings is an article I submitted to Citizen Journalism site Northfield.org about Northfield, MN, and the city’s motto “Cows, Colleges, & Contentment”


Where are all the Cows?




I always enjoy returning to campus after winter break. Each little landmark I pass brings me one step closer to Carleton College. The first is Exit 69, next is the Northfield sign followed by the Malt-O-Meal factory, then finally I catch a glimpse of Carleton and I’m back.

Recently, I was thinking about the Northfield sign and slogan, “Northfield – Cows, Colleges, and Contentment.” I’ve seen the colleges, and Northfield’s community seems pretty content, but where are the cows? I headed over to the Northfield Historical Society to see if I could find an answer to this question.

As it turns out, the motto was originally coined in 1914 after winning first prize in a Commercial Club-sponsored contest. At the time Northfield was known as the Holstein Capital of America.

The first purebred Holsteins arrived in the Northfield area in 1889. The man responsible for bringing Holsteins to the area was William F. Schilling. He had his own nationally-known herd at the Spring Brook Farm. In the early 1900’s the herd averaged 410 pounds of butter per cow annually. W. F. Schilling also played an important role in organizing the Twin City Milk Producers Association. In many ways Northfield, MN influenced the dairy industry and brought about changes in milk production.

By 1916 there were 261 herds of purebred cattle in the Northfield area, but where are they now? Are there still cows in Northfield? Where did they go? I found some answers at the Historical Society, but I still haven’t found any cows.


One comment

  1. If I had a dollar for every time I came here… Amazing article!

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