"What is that thing in the middle of Minnehaha Creek just west of the Highway 100 bridge?" asked one blog reader who grew up on Sunnyslope and used to go rafting in the creek, from the Browndale bridge up to and past Hwy. 100.
Although it doesn't look like much today, the stone structure set off quite a celebration when it was completed in 1935 to create a cascade at the north end of the mill pond.
"Some call it Edina's own Little Niagra -- others thinking closer to home refer to it as the Country Club's little Minnehaha falls..." the July 1935 issue of Country Club's newspaper The Crier proclaimed proudly.
While either term was a wild overstatement, Edina residents celebrated the sight of rushing water as much as any tourist at the grandest waterfalls in the country. After years of drought and low water in the mill pond at the west border of the Country Club District, the new cascade meant the return of ice skating in the winter and waterside picnics in the summer.
To restore water levels (and property values), Edina used $17,000 in Civil Works Administration (CWA) money to drain the pond, line it with clay and install a pump to bring groundwater from a 400-foot deep well instead of relying on water flow from upstream.
When a half-million gallons a day began tumbling over the man made cascade in July 1934, "hundreds of persons" gathered at the site and took home souvenir bottles of water. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt was invited to attend the week-long festivities celebrating the project. (The Crier did not report on her attendance, however.)
After the drought ended, pumping groundwater was no longer necessary, nor deemed a wise practice. While remnants of the man made wall remain, the Minnehaha Creek merely gently flows, rather than gushes, into Edina.
Do you have a history mystery you'd like solved? Contact me with your question and I and/or volunteers will put our intrepid investigating skills to work.
Note: This story first appeared in the July issue of Edina Magazine, where we have a regular back page history featured called "Last Glance." For a free subscription, see the magazine's web site.
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