In April I wrote a post about the history of Minnehaha Creek, my personal Sanctuary in the City. As the rain continues to come day after day and that creek rises higher than I’ve ever seen it, it seemed appropriate to revisit that history again.
The first it appears in documented Minnesota history is in May 1822 when two teenage boys and a few soldiers from Fort Snelling followed it from the fort to Lake Minnetonka. Colonel Snelling’s son was one of the intrepid explorers but according to the St. Louis Park Historical Society, “couldn’t take the mosquitoes and headed back.” Readers familiar with this state will be somberly nodding their heads in agreement with this statement. For those of you not familiar with Minnesota, the mosquito is often referred to as our state bird and they are not pleasant.
The remaining teenager, a drummer boy from Maryland named Joseph Renshaw Brown, passed Indian settlements along the 22 mile creek to Gray’s Bay and Big Island at Lake Minnetonka where they found a Chippewa village. Minnehaha Creek was originally known as Joe Brown’s River, later called “Brown’s Creek” in 1853 by a surveyor. Early settlers used the creek for transportation, food and water and in the late 1800s, it became an international tourist destination in response to the Longfellow poem “Song of Hiawatha.”