Riverfront Park

Welcome to the Greater Mankato on the Move Mobile History Tour featuring the multi-faceted carp.

Greater Mankato is known world-wide for products that are developed and manufactured right here. Here is a story about a short-lived, innovative industry that had a worldwide impact during World War II. 

In 1941, Mankato native Armin Kleinschmidt had the idea of canning carp, a lake fish which were exempt from the food rationing placed on other fish during the Second World War. As a young man, he watched his mother can meat with her pressure cooker and thought why not do this with freshwater fish. Kleinschmidt's efforts of trial and error lead to the first known successful canning of freshwater fish, a process which had not previously been possible.

Beginning in 1945, Kleinschmidt developed his idea and opened a factory in Mankato. In its height the successful Carp Packing plant produced 2,000 pounds of fish an hour. The day would begin with 10,000 pounds of raw fish packed in ice brought in from nearby towns. They would then be processed, with the edible portion of the fish going into cans for human consumption. The leftover pieces were made into pet food which was sold locally.

Then the story took an interesting twist …the U.S. Military soon became very interested in this industry and ultimately became the sole consumer of the Mankato plant’s products. The goods were found all over Europe during World War II and even all the way into Korea during the U.S. involvement there. Kleinschmidt was eventually given an award for service in World War II due to his resourceful contribution.

It was a very successful industry in its duration, bringing Mankato out of the economic downturn of the time. But due to several factors, the company went bankrupt in the 1950s and the plant shut down, leaving behind a legacy of Mankato’s innovation.


Visit BlueEarthCountyHistory.com to learn more.