2020 Northfield Defeat of Jesse James Days Horseshoe Hunt

The 23rd Annual, 2020 Dates for Hunting:  Sept 2 – Sept 7 

Wed – Monday (Labor Day) 

Clues are posted to this sites, on the KYMN Radio and Northfield News sites along with on the DJJD Facebook pages. Clues go live at 7am each day. 


BREAKING:  There are 20 horseshoes hidden this year! $1000 total payout!  $680 Grand Prize.  $20 payout for each memento horseshoe you find

 Horseshoe Hunt Rules and Guidelines

  • There are 20 horseshoes hidden this year (2020). Here’s the scoop.  1-19 pay out $20. The 20th is the official “grand prize” shoe. It is the antique that is used each year (not a keeper).  The first 19 are mementos that you can keep. If you find one, instructions on what to do next are attached to each shoe. You don’t have to register your button to collect the $20 for these first 19. You can collect on as many as you can find. (The mementos shoes are a heavy casting about 3-4″)
  • (IMPORTANT – REGISTER FIRST) Buttons need to be registered before the start of the hunt to receive the full grand prize.  If you did not register and do find the horseshoe, the payout is $300.
  • We ask that you follow COVID-19 safety guidelines including using of a mask when around others.
  • Northfield public school grounds are NOT city-owned and exempt from this contest.  Please stay off all school property, including the colleges.
  • Members of the DJJD Committee and their immediate family are not eligible to participate.
  • Clues are posted online on this site, the Northfield News and the KYMN Radio sites each day no earlier than 7am.
  • When the horseshoe is found and the Chairman has been notified, word will be posted on this site and Facebook. A full explanation of clues will be posted shortly after.
  • The winner must be 18 years old or older.  In past years, families & groups join together to work out the clues and search for the horseshoe.  This is acceptable as long as a legal adult is supervising the search and able to represent the family/group if found.
  • The horseshoe will be located on public property within Northfield or Dundas and will not be buried. NO digging will be needed in the retrieval of the horseshoe and it will not require the use of a ladder. PRIVATE property is excluded and we ask you are respectful as you search public areas. Be sure you research whether a spot is public or not before looking there.  Should damage to any property occur while searching for the horseshoe, the participant(s) forfeit prize money and maybe ban from future contests.
  • While the police are notified in advance of this contest and made aware of the possibility that people may be walking around aimlessly, private property owners have the right to contact authorities if you are on their property.
  • The DJJD Committee is not responsible for any personal injury or accident incurred hunting for or retrieving the horseshoe.  The horseshoe is placed with safety in mind. Closely monitor children in your party. Please hunt responsibly.
  • When the horseshoe is found, the winner must immediately notify Tim Freeland (507-581-5038). Tim will arrange to meet you and confirm the shoe authenticity. There is only 1 horseshoe like this one in the world. Only past winners are aware of the markings on its backside.  This is how it is verified. You must be present at the DJJD Committee meeting the Tuesday following the event to receive your check. The horseshoe is a historical artifact and must be returned to the committee.
  • There is no cost for this event but you do need to register this years DJJD button in advance to claim the FULL prize.
  • If you win, you must agree to be publicly named along with the possibility of an on-air radio interview, your photo and name(s) on various local websites and a picture and write up in the paper (possible but not guaranteed).
  • If the horseshoe goes unfound by midnight on Tuesday, the week of DJJD, the hunt will officially end for the year and prize money will be returned to the donors. The purse does not grow into the next hunting year.
  • The use of metal detectors are prohibited. If you see someone using one, please alert Tim (Text 507-581-5038).
  • (Added 2020) The event chairman reserves to right to disqualify any player for the year if they are not following COVID-19 safety precautions. Take every opportunity to distance yourself and be respectful of others around you.

 A Note From The Event Chairman

 Hunting for the horseshoe can be frustrating, but very much rewarding. My goal is to get people out in the community to enjoy our great city, the public areas and to be with friends, families and neighbors. I want you to learn about our public areas and history. Clues have been interpreted in many different ways each year. If you think you’ve come up with a clever connection relating to your hunt experience, please email me with details.  I love to hear about it. Tell me your story.  And if you find anything that resembles a horseshoe, as many people do amazingly, take a photo of it and send to me. 

I do my best to be fair to all hunters and to give everyone an even playing field. Remember that our committee is an all-volunteer organization and we do what we do because we love the event, the City, and the people. While my clues often involve the use of technology, I do not ever make it so those who are not tech-savvy are at a disadvantage. 

Once the game is over, I will publish an explanation of all clues that reveal what I had in mind when writing them.  Thank you for hunting! 

Tim Freeland – Event Chairman 

Tim at DJJD dot org. Please Text questions to 507-581-5038. 

Please support these Official Event Sponsors! They pay for the prize


The first year in Dundas. Anna Tritch found the 20th (and main) horseshoe around 8am on 9/7/2020. It was a few paces into the wooded area of this small park. 6 clues in. Grand price was $620. 19 $20 shoes were found at prior shoe hiding spots

Hunt information
First Clue:Wednesday, September 2, 2020
Found on:Monday, September 7, 2020
Anna Tritch
Maximum Prize:$620
Awarded Prize:$620
General Location:Pinnacle Park, Dundas, MN
Exact Location:In the woods 8 paces behind one of the picnic tables
Published on Wednesday, September 2, 2020
Nicolaus was new to town
His part in the raid remembered
Cole hollered aloud then shot the man down
In 4 days he died in September
I’m going to be honest here. There’s not a lot in clue 1. Yes, that’s a common first-day strategy but I had an ulterior motive. To get people out looking on the first day focus on the 19 horseshoes lying around town first. I realize there was confusion around what the clues were referring to. To which shoe(s). It hopefully became apparent that the 19 “mini” shoes were at the places prior horseshoes were hidden. There have been 24 hunts in 23 years (2 in 2011).

What you do see in this first clue is something “new”. Yes, the first line tells you that something new is up. That is, we’re going to Dundas for the first time. What’s also important is the set up of the Nicolaus Gustafson story. I’ve wanted to give him some “ink” over the years and now was the time. There’s been some press on him lately and I wanted to honor the local family still in the area.
Clue Rating: 
No votes yet

Published on Thursday, September 3, 2020
Then Gustafson came to town that day
It became the crown of historic places
The Swedish trader had nothing to say
He was close enough to see their faces
I’m establishing the story of Nicolaus Gustafson (there are many different spellings out there). A recent Northfield Now magazine (Summer 2020) includes an article by Nicolaus’s ancestors, still in the area. Millersburg (where he lived) and Dundas are closely connected in the raid history as some of the robbers stayed the night prior to Sept 7th in Millersburg (At the Cushman Hotel) and then met up with the rest of the group in Dundas along the Cannon river before proceeding into Northfield.

Now, “Historic places”. Of course, you think of the Scriver building. There’s also the Mill remains in Dundas. But, in this case, the historic places are a tip-off that I’ve hidden the 19 other shoes in the prior locations of former HH locations.

Crown is also a Pinnacle. The peak. Or “crown” of a mountain. Pinnacle park is the main hiding spot. Pinnacle Park in Dundas, in the Bridgewater Heights development. This newer development uses “heights” related street names. Summit, highland, knoll, pinnacle. It is on some of the highest grounds in the area, which isn’t really high at all (relatively speaking).

The fact that the Dundas Dukes mascot wears a crown was a coincidence. I knew what the logo looked like but I honestly didn’t intend for that logo to be mis-direction. I did intend to use the dual meaning of a number of words to Memorial Park in Dundas where the Dukes play. I felt that the whole area would seem too obvious for a hunting spot. Many people were out there, and I get it. I can see why they were. Many hunters pointed out other relative meanings in my clues to that ballpark. I’m always surprised at how creative and wise people are in their clue research.
Clue Rating: 
No votes yet

Published on Friday, September 4, 2020
Gusty’s kin took the reigns
The trail was polyonymous
The path they took was the same
These men looked oddly ominous
Tested out my wordsmithing. Polyonmous perfectly describes Millersburg Blvd, the road that runs between Dundas and Millersburg. CR 1, West Avenue, Millersburg blvd, Dodd road. I had to use 2 words to rhyme with that and “Oddly” worked well which was also a red herring and yet another homage to Oddfellows (where a small shoe was). Both Nicolaus and some of the gang took this road that fateful day. I really wanted to force people to dig into the Gustafson story. Especially since some of the gang stayed in the Cushman hotel in Millersburg the night before, close to the Gustafson home.

Kin is a synonym for “Sister”. I was going for “sister city”. Or linking Nfld and Dundas as twin cities.

** Note “reigns” was my error. I learned it should have been “reins” but neither were directly relevant. Sorry if anyone spent too much time on that.
Clue Rating: 
No votes yet

Published on Saturday, September 5, 2020
In the span of 4 days, he fought for his life
But he was shot in the top of his head
The family and townspeople filled with strife
An epic battle in the streets and in his bed
I’m not giving a whole lot on day 4 because the specific area of interest is very small. I can’t be too forthcoming early or it will be searched over in a few minutes.

I reveal just 3 identifiers here. “Top” which is another synonym for “Pinnacle”. And the Bridgewater Heights development being high up. And I mention “span” which is for the “Bridge” in bridgewater. I realize this is still vague and can be interpreted in many ways. The idea IS to get out with friends and family and explore our great community. Plus, the weather is awesome this time of the year. I also mention “epic” which might confirm DUNDAS because of “Epic Enterprises” over on railway street. This will lead folks to the original Dundas. Many don’t realize Bridgewater heights is even in Dundas. See the most recent city boundary map located on the Dundas website.
Clue Rating: 
No votes yet

Published on Sunday, September 6, 2020
Nicolaus Gustafson went looking for new life
Rounding the trail he crossed the iron bridge
Just up the ridge, the shoe was sprung
Inscribed on top... ”just add sun”
New life is a new park in a newer development. East Dundas. Rounding is roundabout. Bridge is Bridgewater Heights. Ridge is synonym for “Knoll”, the cul de sac next door.

“Add sun” is an anagram of “dundas”
Clue Rating: 
No votes yet

Published on Monday, September 7, 2020
His life flashed before his eyes...
Regrets about going round-and-round with things
Wanting to reach the very top in his new land
But it was all water under the bridge
Life was no picnic
But he stepped into the thick of it
And had reached new heights
He was one with himself
And like that, Nicolaus was gone
That’s one heck of a final clue. I had to hold back a lot of that because Pinnacle park is very small and there are only so many parks in Dundas. Using any strong references to nearby streets would easily give it away.

Heck, I even made a Google map review of this park a year ago and mentioned it would be a good place to hide a horseshoe. I didn’t expect anyone to pick up on this but 1 person did. You know who you are. Good job!

Line by line.

His life flashed before his eyes…
Regrets about going round-and-round with things ( The Round-about on CR 1)
Wanting to reach the very top in his new land (THE Pinnacle just off Highland)
But it was all water under the bridge (Bridgewater)
Life was no picnic (Right behind 1 of the 2 tables in the woods. Well, 8 paces back)
But he stepped into the thick of it (It’s in the woods)
And had reached new heights (Highland. Bridgewater Heights)
He was one with himself (County Road 1)
And like that, Nicolaus was gone
Clue Rating: 
No votes yet