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Lake Minnetonka Information

DISCOVERY: Lake Minnetonka was discovered, for the white man, by two 14 yr. old boys living at Ft. Snelling in 1822. ( Ft. Snelling is located at the confluence of the Mississsippi and Minnesota rivers, near the airport.) Joe Brown, a drummer boy, and Will Snelling, the son of the Commandant, decided one day to canoe up what is now Minnehaha creek and found the headwaters at the lake.

The discovery was hushed up because the land still belonged to the Dakota Sioux tribe headed by Chief Shakopee. The fort was built to keep the settlers East of the Mississippi and they didn’t want news of the lake to become general knowledge.

The high area on the West of Wayzata bay, now called Ferndale, was sacred ground to the Sioux and also the little island just off the tip of the peninsula, "Spirit Island", visible from the Wayzata Yacht Club. It forms part of the gateway from Wayzata Bay to the Lower Lake.

The Indians kept the lake a secret. It wasn’t until about 1852 that a party from New York visiting St. Anthony (Minneapolis) and St. Paul ventured up the creek and made it general knowledge.

SHORE TOWNS: The area West of Ft. Snelling was opened up to settlers in about 1853 and five towns sprung up around the lake. MINNETONKA MILLS started life as a rough-hewn sawmill. EXCELSIOR was born in New York City on a piece of paper and today is one of only two cities to have a, "Commons", the other is Boston. WAYZATA came into existence in the center of Chief Shakopee’s Indian village. MOUND was born among the dead, near Indian burial grounds. ST. ALBANS was on St. Albans bay.




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