Lake Minnetonka (Images of America)
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Known to native peoples for centuries as a sacred place and hunting ground, the ninth largest of Minnesotas 10,000 lakes remained unchanged until its shores were opened to settlement in 1851. The following year, New York promoter George Bertram wrote, For healthfulness of climate, fertility of soil, beauty of scenery and nearness to markets [it] cannot be surpassed by any other locality in the country, being within twelve or fifteen miles of two of the most important towns in the territory . . . navigable for steam and other boats over forty-one miles, its waters clear as crystal and abounding with fish. Settlers began to flock to Lake Minnetonkas 120 miles of shoreline, clearing the Big Woods and building new lives in the wilderness. Soon, the lake became a tourist destination; thousands traveled across the country to stay in its lavish hotels, ride in massive steamboats, and enjoy the lakes beauty.
Minnesota is attracting more attention at present than Minnetonka.” Before photography came to the lake, its vistas were preserved with words. For the excited speculator, the pioneer filled with wanderlust, and the family anxious to learn about their future home, letters and newspaper reports were their only resource. In 1852, John H. Stevens, one of the first settlers in what is now Minneapolis, wrote to George Bertram of the Excelsior Pioneer Association in New York: This is a healthy
travelled all day long when this was so, and not felt the cold, and I was as comfortable as in mid summer, in fact, the winters are not objectionable. Now for Minnetonka: Maple sugar can be made, enough to sweeten a colony of fifty thousand souls. . . . The wild game of the country is abundant enough to support any quantity of families and as the Indians recede the game will increase. . . . Any family can procure enough fish to last them year round. . . . In winter, we are about fourteen days
of preserved history, the images in this book bring clarity to the way we perceive the lake’s past and shape its future. 8 One Homesteads and Namesakes By 1855, all of the Lake Minnetonka shoreline was claimed. Many of the settlers were well educated Easterners seeking adventure, and word spread quickly about the desirability of the lake area. The first Lake Minnetonka settlement in Minnetonka Mills was founded by Simon Stevens and millwright Calvin Tuttle in 1852. Sawmills turned the woods
deliver the milk his herd produced. From 1935 until 1952, the farm was leased by the Sween Brothers’ Dairy, and at its largest it had 60 milk cows, a creamery, and over 1,000 Leghorn laying hens. By 1956, the Bowman family was ready to sell and felt that the “larger interest of the community was to maintain the open space that the farm provided.” Rather than a housing subdivision, the land became the Wayzata Golf and Hunt Club, today standing as Wayzata Country Club. (Both, WZHS.) 124 Boulder
by which everyone can share in the history of the lake area; and stimulate interest in the cultural heritage of the area. The society’s archives and museum are free and open to the public, and it has published a number of books about Lake Minnetonka history. The society also presents programs on topics of local historical interest. For more information: www.elmhs.org, firstname.lastname@example.org, 952-221-4766. Wayzata Historical Society. The society was founded in 1982 to document, preserve, and share the