Thrillers Inspired by St. Paul’s Winter Carnival and Lots of Words About Its History – Twin Cities

It’s Winter Carnival time, and while many of us will be enjoying the fun of the outdoors, others might be happy to stand in front of the fire and enjoy Carnival vicariously through the pages of books. .

In fiction, award-winning novelist and architecture writer Larry Millet uses Carnival as a setting for “Sherlock Holmes and the Ice Palace Murders, one of a series of thrillers featuring Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in the Midwest. When a scion of one of St. Paul’s wealthiest families goes mad – literally – it’s up to Holmes and Watson to find the killer in cold blood. In 1896, with Carnival underway, Holmes and Watson, accompanied by investigator Shadwell Rafferty, track the cruel and ruthless murderer through the city and on the treacherous ice of the Mississippi River. (University of Minnesota Press, 2011)

Sometimes the cold that we northerners learn to live with is downright frightening to others, because F. Scott Fitzgerald brilliantly described in his 1920 modernist short story “The Ice Palace, in which Sally, a young woman from Georgia, visits her fiancé’s family in an unnamed northern town that is St. Paul. She dislikes Harry’s stoic parents and the way women are treated. She longs for the sweet sunshine of her home. When lost and alone in the labyrinths of the Ice Palace, she panics and is sure she is going to die. She felt “a deep terror far greater than any fear of being lost.” Convinced that she will never be happy in the North, she returns home and the story ends where it began, with Sally sitting in the southern sun. Fitzgerald was not born until 1896, but he is said to have heard of the spectacular palaces of 1887 and 1888. This story recalls Fitzgerald’s relationship with Zelda, his Southern Belle wife. (Included in “The St. Paul Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald”, Minnesota Historical Society Press, edited by Dave Page and Patricia Hampl, 2004.


“Fire & Ice: The Story of St. Paul’s Winter Carnival” by Moira Harris. (Pogo Press, 2003)

“St. Paul’s Winter Carnival 100th Anniversary History, 1866-1986” by Judith Yates Borger (Jan Wiggs, 1986)

“Pioneer Press Scavenger Hunt History” by Jesse C. Anibas, (White Bear Lake, MN: Scavenger Hunt Headquarters, 2005)

Cover of the book Frozen Pleasures“Frozen Pleasures” by Paul Clifford Larson (1998, Afton Historical Society Press, 1998) and « St. Paul’s Day 1992 Winter Carnival Pepsi Ice Palace: An Illustrated Souvenir Book » (no author listed, Minnesota Winter Carnival, 1992)

ARTICLES available from the Minnesota Historical Society, plus copies of the above books.

“Another Siberia, unfit for human habitation: the super ice palaces of Saint-Paul, 1886, 1887, 1888” by Bob Olson (Ramsey County History Magazine, Vol. 52, No. 4)

“Rollicking Realm of Boreas: A Century of Carnivals in St. Paul” by Jean E. Spraker (Minnesota History, Vol. 49, #8)

“Chilling Tales: A History of St. Paul’s Winter Carnival Ice Palaces” by Mary Jean Jecklin (Architecture Minnesota, Vol. 18, #1)

“Winter Carnival: the annual snow festival of Saint-Paul” by KM Kostyal (National Geographic Traveler, Vol. 1, #4)

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