Unofficial nickname. There was discussion in the mid 19th C about whether to call Minnesota "The Gopher State" or "The Beaver State." In February 1858, the new Minnesota Legislature introduced the â€œFive Million Loanâ€ bill. The purpose was to provide money to build railroads in the state. During the public debate, a cartoon circulated depicting the railroad tycoons as nine gophers with human heads pulling a Gopher Train. This possibly helped sway the decision to The Gopher State. In fact, the nickname refers to the â€œstriped gopherâ€ which is not actually a gopher, but is a thirteen-lined ground squirrel.