Open Since 1887, Minnesota’s Oldest Bar is 75 Minutes from Owatonna
Go north of Owatonna, Minnesota about 75 minutes to North St. Paul and you'll make it to the oldest bar in Minnesota, Neumann's. It's been open since 1887, so for 134 years! Yep, that means they made it through the prohibition and the Great Depression.
How Neumann's Got its Start
Neumann's first opened in 1887 in North St. Paul. If I understand the history correctly, the bar was technically started by Hamm's Brewery and then they passed ownership on to Bill Neumann but Bill had to serve Hamm's beer. Hamm's also put in a beautiful back bar that's still being used in Neumann's today.
How Did Neumann's Make it Through the Prohibition?
1920-1933 was the prohibition, so how did Neumann's stay in operation? In the main bar area they sold near-beer and sandwiches, downstairs to make some extra money they sold fishing bait, and upstairs was, you guessed it, a speakeasy. Based on Neumann's website it appears you can go upstairs to check out the area if you want. The stairs are behind a door to your left when you walk in.
They were pretty savvy when it came to the speakeasy. There was a phone installed in the speakeasy and in the bar downstairs so the bartender downstairs could call the speakeasy to let them know if there was a customer coming up that was allowed in or if the police were there. There's a little peephole on the door to the speakeasy too so they could see if you were someone to allow in or not.
Neumann's Mascots: Live Bullfrogs
You read that correctly, Neumann's "mascots" are live bullfrogs that live in an aquarium in the front window. Bill first brought in a couple of bullfrogs in the 1930s and there have been bullfrogs there ever since.
If you're up in the North St. Paul area, check out a piece of history at Neumann's. A lot of pictures, memorabilia, and equipment from back in the day are still there to check out.
Speaking of bars, if you're looking for great small-town bars in the area, keep scrolling to check out some of the best in southern Minnesota.