Before I moved to the Twin Cities, I heard about Minnehaha Falls through friends. They described it as a giant waterfall in the middle of the city, and I had a weird image in my head of an oasis-like park surrounded by skyscrapers.
That’s not quite accurate, but it is kind of an oasis from city life where Twin Citians can feel like they are exploring nature without having to go very far.
After almost eight years here, I’ve been many times, but it was only as we explored this past weekend that I really wondered about the park’s history.
It all started with a poem written by a man who’d never even seen the falls, but he still managed to make people curious about a far off land with wondrous waterfalls and fascinating cultures. It so happens that Longfellow wasn’t terribly accurate in his portrayal of the Ojibwa, but it’s all part of the story now. We are still sorting fact from lore around here. Did you know that “Minnehaha” does not actually mean “laughing water”?
This slideshow from the Minnesota Historical Society has a century’s worth of photos from Minnehaha Park.
For us, last weekend was the perfect time to explore our park. We climbed stairs, crossed bridges, left the path, and waded into the water. Just the right amount of nature for this city girl.