The sport of curling involves sliding 42-pound stones of polished granite down a sheet of expertly prepared ice towards a target. One team member launches the rock in a slow, majestic procession, while others influence its trajectory with frantic broomstrokes of the ice in its path. It began as an outdoor sport, probably in 17th century Scotland, and in due course made its way to the chilly regions of North America.
The first known St. Paul curling competition took place on the Mississippi River near Navy Island, downtown, on Christmas 1885. The game was between the St. Paul Curling Club, founded the month before Christmas, and the upstart Nushka Club, founded that very week. The outcome of the game was never recorded.
There followed a period of popularity, with ice sheets popping up around town, clubs coming and going, and tournaments (bonspiels) held in the St. Paul Winter Carnival. The St. Paul Club built its first clubhouse on Navy (then Raspberry) Island in 1891. In the era before manufactured ice, curling seasons could be unpredictable, as they required not only sustained cold weather but also expert ice technicians. The Depression of the 1890s took a toll and the St. Club folded in 1903. Former members created the Capitol City Club the following year.
The Nushka Club built the first clubhouse on the Selby Avenue site in 1903. The Capitol City Club and Nushka Clubs merged in 1912 as the revived St. Paul Curling Club and built the current building in 1913; it has remained open since. Artificial ice sheets were installed in 1939.
The St. Paul Curling Club is believed to be the biggest in the country, with over 1200 members. Curling thrives once again.