Copyright by Brianne Sieberg. Powered by Blogger.

The John H. Stevens House Exterior - Minneapolis, MN

Dear Diary,
Col. John H. Stevens was the first authorized resident on the west bank of the Mississippi River in what would later become the city of Minneapolis. At the time, it was a part of the Fort Snelling military reservation.

Though his commemorative statue identifies him a "Colonel," it wasn't his official rank in the U.S. Army. He did serve, including involvement in the Mexican-American War, and then on to the Minnesota House of Representatives and the Minnesota Senate. I've learned the "Colonel" title is merely an unofficial sign of respect.

The home was considered to be the civic and social hub of the city, organizing both Hennepin County and the city of Minneapolis. In fact, it's said this is where the name "Minneapolis" was coined.

The house was built in 1850 and moved from its original location to Minnehaha Falls Park in 1896, utilizing horses and 10,000 school children (what?!) Today it's a museum that showcases early life as the city was established.

Without Stevens, would the city and its surrounding suburbs we call home be what we know today?

In all honesty, I'm not sure.

Everything has to start somewhere. For Minneapolis, that "start" was inside this house.

If I am going to write a blog that documents my evolving relationship with the Twin Cities, with Minnesota, with Midwest as I get to know the region - then the story of its "start" must be included here.

Which I'm told, is because Stevens simply was granted residence by Fort Snelling in exchange for operating a ferry.

In 1985, the home opened as a museum and introduces visitors to Stevens and his family through its displays of artifacts and personal effects.

Outward appearances and first impressions - the home is simple.

Especially compared to the massive grandeur of the James J. Hill House, the structure is much more modest despite its significance.

No plumbing, as evident by the outhouse; no electricity - I imagine life here as Minnesota was establishing itself was challenging at best.

Today, over 168 years after its settling, Minneapolis is a place I am grateful to call my home.

4901 Minnehaha Avenue S

Minnehaha "Princess" Depot - Minneapolis, MN

Dear Diary,
Built in 1875, the Minnehaha Depot's location was once in the countryside. In fact, it stood on the first rail line west of the Mississippi connecting Minneapolis to Chicago.

The city of Minneapolis "grew up" around the Depot, and for a time, provided services to weekenders who wanted to picnic, fish, swim and visit the Longfellow Zoo.

It's extremely small size belies the level of traffic it handled.

The tiny depot measures 22 feet x 20 feet with a 75-foot platform. It was given the nickname "Princess" by railway men because of its delicate gingerbread canopy.

Soldiers from the Spanish-American War, WWI, WWII and the Korean War were inducted into the Army at nearby Fort Snelling, then left for service on the neighboring, now-decommissioned tracks.

The depot served passengers until 1920, then operated as a freight station until 1963 when it was closed.

On the opposite side of the treeline, is a Light Rail station. Echoing above the silence of these tracks and depot is what became of the rail industry after over a century of advancements. It was an odd feeling to bear witness to two different eras of the same mode of transportation.

Today the depot houses old telegraph equipment, a coal-fired stove and other remnants from its past. The Minnesota Transportation Museum restored it to its 1890s appearance.

More information can be found here.
Located at Minnehaha Park 55 and Minnehaha Parkway

Minnehaha Falls Park - Minneapolis, MN

Dear Diary,
After almost 7 years a Minnesotan, I finally accomplished something I've been wanting to do for some time now.

I climbed down to the creek bed at Minnehaha to take pictures.

It was a simple undertaking - a matter of climbing down the stairs - and easily achieved during a break in the work day. Minnehaha is located less than 10 minutes from my office and I'm a little ashamed it's taken me this long to do it.

I want to see how the fall colors transform this place, and no, I won't wait another 7 years to find out.

The majestic 53-foot waterfall is probably the park's main draw. It's absolutely gorgeous, and it's thunderous roar as water from the creek cascades over the rock cliff echoes throughout the area. The previous times I've visited, I've stuck to the bridges above.

Related Post: Minnehaha

(At the top of the waterfall ...)

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the New England poet and for whom one of the park's three gardens is named, gave this waterfall national fame in the Song of Hiawatha, written in 1853.

The park is one of Minneapolis' oldest and most popular, attracting more than 850,000 visitors annually.

(From above ...)

I was angered by this plaque - in the midst of a drought, the city is going to further deplete its water supply and impact its citizens for the sake of a pretty picture with the President? It felt irresponsible.

Minnehaha overlooks one of the Locks on the Mississippi. It is quite a sight - I've seen a number of barges come through other Lock and Dams on the river, and it is an engineering marvel to behold. I think too, since the Mississippi River is associated with the South, it's a bit surprising to learn that the river's mouth is in Minnesota, and bisects the two major cities in the region into Twins.

The Little Chief Crow Mask by Ed Archie Noisecat is located near the falls. This area is considered sacred to Native Americans.

(The Pergola Garden)

The park was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1969 as the Minnehaha Historic District. More information about the park and it's amenities can be found here.

Lake Marion - Lakeville, MN

Dear Diary,
We are fortunate to live so close to one of Minnesota's 10,000 lakes.

Although I think officially, the total number is well above 15,000.

Throughout my 35 trips around the sun, either a lake or the Mississippi River has been in close proximity. I grew up near the shores of Lake Michigan and spent summer vacations on Sand Lake in northern Wisconsin. I lived in a Mississippi river town during and post-college. Now, I'm grateful to be settled here.

(He was thrilled!) 

Recently, while boating, we found an area stocked with fish. The kids would barely drop a line in the water before hooking one. I think they caught 42 fish in just over an hour!

Establishing a City

In 1853 Captain William B. Dodd designed and directed construction of a road that served as a practical route between the military forts in St. Paul and Faribault. Dodd was killed in The Great Sioux Uprising in 1862, and the road (still in existence to this day) was named for him.

Shortly after the road was built, J.J. Brackett, who transported mail, supplies and travelers along this route, chose Lakeville as an ideal spot for a town. Brackett platted 250 acres and named it "Lakeville" due to nearby Prairie Lake (now Lake Marion). Griffin Phelps, who worked for Brackett, is believed to be the town's first settler.

By 1858, at today's intersection of County Road 50 and Dodd Blvd., the tiny town of Lakeville contained a general store, two hotels, a boarding house, a saloon and a shoe shop.

(This is how we spent our July 4th ...)

(This is how my daughter poses with her catch, lol) 

When you consider what the passage of time has done to the city, the one constant has been the landscape and the lake that supported its establishment.