The first white settlers came to what is now Blue Earth County in 1852, and discovered an abundance of rich land, streams, rivers, and lakes for survival in southern Minnesota. Showcasing photographs from the area's first 70 years, the Blue Earth County Historical Society has compiled over 200 images of the lifestyles and advancements of its earliest settlers.
The pioneers of Blue Earth County recognized the potential for success at the bend in the Minnesota River, and forged a vibrant community out of the big woods and prairies of southern Minnesota. Pictured here are the fruits of those settlers' labors, seen in vintage images from the townships of Blue Earth County, including life on the farms and in the towns.
Just north of Minneapolis and along the Mississippi River stretch the fertile prairies that attracted French Canadians and New Englanders in 1852. Originally called Brooklyn Township, Brooklyn Park and Brooklyn Center grew as settlers cultivated farms and marketed their produce. One-room schoolhouses evolved into the largest and finest schools in Minnesota while fast-growing industry and commuting replaced the small family farms. The story of Brooklyn Park and Brooklyn Center, as told through pictures, old-timer memories, and yellowed newspapers, reveals the lives of loggers, potato farmers, war heroes, and everyday people who found their dreams and quietly raised their families. Over the years, neighborhoods and fashions change as the people continue to take pride in their community s rich history."
Lake Minnetonka is renowned for its natural beauty as well as the prominent people it has attracted to its shores as a historic site of grand hotels, steamboats, and wealthy visitors from around the world, and as the home of the legendary Excelsior Amusement Park. But did you know that early European settlers to the region faced conditions so dire that they named an outlet of the lake "Purgatory Creek"? Or that a ginseng boom brought slaves to Wayzata to harvest the plant's roots? Many know that Frank Lloyd Wright designed famous homes around the lake, but few are aware he was also arrested there for living with his mistress and sent to the Hennepin County jail for "white slavery."
By the Waters of Minnetonka uncovers remarkable and hidden facts about the lake and those who have lived on its shores, from the region's original Dakota inhabitants to the present. Nineteenth-century plantation owners made Minnetonka into a summer vacation playground for the wealthy, and Prohibition-era battles led teetotalers to hoax Minneapolis newspapers about bloody clashes between preachers and saloon owners.
Eric Dregni, who grew up in Minnetonka, sheds light on intriguing, if at times unsettling, aspects of the lake's history, challenging myths and revisiting elements of the past that have been forgotten or glossed over. He also relates--and sometimes pokes fun at--the opulent, glamorous, and sometimes raucous moments that have made Lake Minnetonka an icon of splendid resort living in Minnesota.