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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Minneapolis in Hennepin County, Minnesota — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
 

Stepping Stone Between East and West

 

— Saint Anthony Falls Heritage Trail —

 
Stepping Stone Between East and West Marker image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, August 22, 2014
1. Stepping Stone Between East and West Marker
Inscription.  Midstream in the Mississippi River, Nicollet Island served countless generations of Indian people as a crossing point and camping spot. After Europeans assumed the right to make boundaries, the island lay between lands claimed by England, France, and later Spain. In 1783 the east bank of the river became United States territory, while the west bank remained part of French, then Spanish, Louisiana. The United States purchased Louisiana in 1803 from France.

In 1838 Dakota Indian land east of the Mississippi, with all its tribal memories and sacred places, was opened to private ownership by white settlers. Speculators raced to claim land and waterpower rights at the falls. The land west of the river was part of the Fort Snelling Military Reservation. Not until 1854 did the government recognize the claims of squatters already occupying the west bank. By 1855 the first bridge built across the Mississippi connected Nicollet Island to the new village of Minneapolis.

Settlers from New England and New York State were drawn to this place in the 1850s by the lumber industry and other opportunities at the falls. Educated, religious, and often
Marker detail: Nicollet Island, 1885 image. Click for full size.
Minnesota Historical Society
2. Marker detail: Nicollet Island, 1885
Nicollet Island in 1885, showing industrial activity clustered at the south end of the island, commercial activity along Bridge Street (Hennepin Avenue), a mansion and row-house district in the center of the island, and smaller residences to the north. Most of the row-houses were replaced by the expansion of De La Salle High School in the 1920s.
self-righteous, these people valued industrial enterprise and favored laws against slavery and liquor. On the Mississippi, they came face to face with Canadian voyageurs, western fur traders, Indians, and southern slaveholders. The conflicts, compromises, and understandings that resulted put a special stamp on the character of Minneapolis.

Even in the 1860s, the idea of using Nicollet Island as a public park was proposed. But the rapid growth of Minneapolis soon covered the island with industry and housing. Over the years many plans for the island have been considered, including one in the 1920s to develop an airport. The nineteenth century homes were threatened in the 1960s by plans to build a freeway across the upper end of the island. However, strong neighborhood protest stopped construction of the interstate. Today most of the island is a public park, owned by the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board, with many buildings restored by private owners.

(panel above marker on kiosk)
The Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is one of the largest rivers in the world. It divides east from west through the center of the United States: boundary, obstacle, water supply, drainage system, highway. It is 2,350 miles long and flows from Lake Itasca in northern Minnesota southward to New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico. Its watershed covers 1,231,000 square
Marker detail: 1869 Tunnel Collapse image. Click for full size.
Minnesota Historical Society
3. Marker detail: 1869 Tunnel Collapse
In 1869 William W. Eastman tried to expand waterpower on Nicollet Island by building a long tunnel to Hennepin Island. However, the tunnel collapsed and the river rushed in, creating a whirlpool that threatened to destroy the falls. Desperate efforts were made to plug the hole, but it took eight years of work by the US Army Corps of Engineers to fully repair the damage.
miles and drains portions of thirty-two states and two Canadian provinces.

Wild and natural resources abound in the river corridor. Forty percent of North American waterfowl migrate along its flyway. As a major mid-continent waterway, the Mississippi has carried people and products north and south over thousands of years.

The river has stirred imagination and creativity in the worlds of art, music, dance, and literature. Stories of human time and habitation are found in cities and in open spaces; in bridges, dams, and navigation systems; in houses, farms, and industrial buildings; in parks, burial grounds, and archaeological remains. They are stories of places and people who have known and lived near the Mississippi, past and present.

The Falls of St. Anthony
The Falls of St. Anthony is the only major waterfall on the Mississippi River. It has meant many things to people over time: a place of wonder and mystery; a landmark for travelers, explorers, traders, and tourists; a waterpower harnessed by early industrialists to produce wealth, power, and international fame for the region.

The falls were not always where they are today. Over many centuries, forces of erosion caused them to move upstream to their present location, where they were stabilized in the 1870s to protect the waterpower for the growing city of Minneapolis. That pathway of erosion
Marker detail: Nicollet Island, 1865 image. Click for full size.
Minnesota Historical Society
4. Marker detail: Nicollet Island, 1865
A farm occupied lower Nicollet Island in 1865. Across the river, the small white frame house below the Hennepin Avenue Bridge is the home of John Stevens and his family, the first white settlers on the west side of the river.
defined the geography of the Twin Cities.

St. Paul was settled in the 1840s, at the head of steamboat navigation on the Mississippi, near the original site of the falls some 12,000 years ago. It became the territorial capital of Minnesota in 1849 and the state capital in 1858.

Minneapolis, twelve miles upstream from St. Paul, developed in the 1850s around the waterpower of the falls, to become the flour-milling capital of the nation from 1880 to 1930 and the largest city in Minnesota today.
 
Erected by St. Anthony Falls Heritage Board.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & CommerceNative AmericansSettlements & SettlersWaterways & Vessels.
 
Location. 44° 59.14′ N, 93° 15.601′ W. Marker is in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in Hennepin County. Marker is at the intersection of Merriam Street and East Island Avenue, on the left when traveling west on Merriam Street. Marker is mounted on a kiosk along the walkway north of the Nicollet Island Pavilion. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 40 Power Street, Minneapolis MN 55401, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Joseph N. Nicollet (within shouting distance of this marker); Nicollet Island Businesses (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Eliza Winston
Marker detail: John Wesley North & Ann Loomis North image. Click for full size.
Huntington Library
5. Marker detail: John Wesley North & Ann Loomis North
John Wesley North and Ann Loomis North were newlyweds in 1849. John, an antislavery leader from Massachusetts, was the first lawyer in St. Anthony. Ann gave lessons on her treasured piano. In winter, ice made a bridge to their Nicollet Island home. In summer, they walked to the shore over logs floating in the east channel mill pond.
(about 400 feet away); Symbols on the Skyline (about 500 feet away); The Church of Our Lady of Lourdes (about 700 feet away); The Whirlpool (approx. 0.2 miles away); Indians at the Falls (approx. 0.2 miles away); The House of John H. Stevens (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Minneapolis.
 
Also see . . .  St. Anthony Falls Tunnel Collapse. The tunnel under the river was six-feet square, and work progressed without difficulty for a year, until October 4, 1869. That morning, workers returning from the weekend found water seeping into the tunnel. The next morning, Tuesday, October 5, the river broke through and the top of the tunnel collapsed. Water scoured the tunnel wider and deeper until the resulting hole was sixteen-and-a-half feet deep and as much as ninety feet wide. By this time, all of the falls were in danger of collapsing into rapids. (Submitted on August 31, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 
 
Marker detail: The Falls of St. Anthony image. Click for full size.
6. Marker detail: The Falls of St. Anthony
Stepping Stone Between East and West Marker Kiosk image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, August 22, 2014
7. Stepping Stone Between East and West Marker Kiosk
Stepping Stone Between East and West Marker Kiosk image. Click for full size.
8. Stepping Stone Between East and West Marker Kiosk
(Nicollet Island Pavilion in left background)
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on September 1, 2020. It was originally submitted on August 31, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 73 times since then and 2 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. submitted on August 31, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.
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Jan. 27, 2021