When I was invited to a book signing for The Cigar Maker a few weeks ago, by the Dayton’s Bluff Town Council, they told me they were considering hosting the event in an old cigar factory in St. Paul. I said “Wait a minute. There’s an old cigar factory in St. Paul? St. Paul, Minnesota?”
Turns out there is.
The John Doeren cigar factory, built in 1909, is located at 699 7th St East in St. Paul. Doeren arrived in St. Paul in the 1880s, already a cigar businessman, and in 1909 his company opened in a brand new building, where cigars were rolled by hand until 1940, when the company finally closed its doors. That’s 60 years of cigar history that most locals don’t even know about! Nowadays the small brick building is the current home of the St. Paul Police East Team. Here’s how it looked in 1910…
And here’s how it looks today…
But the cigar industry was not just active in St. Paul. The town of Two Harbors, located in VERY northern Minnesota on the north shore of Lake Superior was home to two cigar factories in the early 1900’s and produced over 30,000 stogies a month!
And then there’s the town of Benson (pop. 3300ish) on the west side of the state. Mostly an agricultural town, tobacco was grown in the county and back in the 1880’s the town was said to have several cigar factories.
There’s also the Close-But-No-Cigar History of Minnesota, which includes last year’s Minnesota Vikings, the 2002 Twins, and of course, Norm Coleman.
What kind of cigar history exists in your home state? A quick Google search can uncover quite a bit!
Mark McGinty is the author of The Cigar Maker. His work has been published in Cigar City Magazine and La Gaceta, one of the nation’s oldest tri-lingual newspapers.