Minnehaha phenology April 26 2019

Herewith I am continuing to create a list of the plants, especially the flowering plants, in Minnehaha Park.

Spring ephemerals are those plants which burst into bloom right quick before the trees leaf out.

Suddenly the forest floor is carpeted with green. Quite a lot of these plants are bloodroot.

The Bloodroot is one of the plants that shows up in early spring, then disappears by early summer.  Known as Sanguinaria canadensis, it is rather poisonous.  It seems so shy of flowering as it comes up.

Bloodroot sends up its flower wrapped in its single leaf.

The single leaf unfurls and the blossom opens.

Bloodroot grows in large and small patches in Minnehaha Park.
The trillium has yet to bloom in Minnehaha park in late April, but it is clearly considering it.

Trillium grandiflorum is also called the wake robin.  In Minneapolis the robins are thoroughly woke long before the trillium blossoms, but perhaps the name refers to one of those timing things, like picking morels when the lilac leaves are the size of a squirrel’s ear.

The cutleaf toothwort, which is apparently common but hitherto unknown by me. And I’m pretty good at this.

The cutleaf toothwort or Cardamine concatenata. I had to ask the Internet hive mind what this was.  There are large patches of it below the creek at Minnehaha.

In many places in the park, the false rue anemone (or Enemion biternatum) is found commingled with the cutleaf toothwort or other plants.

False rue anemone has petals five and leaves that look like columbine.  This picture also has a nice look at the bloodroot’s leave, as well as some small trilliums and some trout lilies.  The bloodroot’s flowering period is very very short.  Here, its seed pods are already forming.

I really expected the Latin name for the false rue anemone to have something like “aquilegifolium” in it, to indicate that the leaves look like columbine.  But what do I know, anyway.

The trout lily takes its name from the spots-ness of its leaf. It mostly just puts up one ephemeral leaf, then gives up and goes back to bed.  Just one bud is visible in this picture. Here it is mingling with Virginia waterleaf.

If you took a whole lot of longish, thinnish leaves and stuck them stem down in the ground, it would look like a great carpet of trout lily, Erythronium albidum.  The blooms are so relatively infrequent that they appear as a marvelous surprise.

The trout lily in blossom. Here one can see that the plant might have as many as two leaves.

The spring rains have continued to make the lower reaches of the park a soggy mess. The water is much higher than it was 10 days ago.

The fourth bridge is almost completely submerged.

There’s no one wading across to reach the railings and the other side of the creek on a day when the creek is this high.  On the upstream (right) side, there’s a streak of white foam where the water is backed up, unable to flow under the bridge.

Though the water is obviously higher than I saw on April 16th, there were signs that it had receded.  The wet mud next to the floodwaters had lots of animal prints in it.

The footprints of a bird. I don’t know which one. Pigeon, perhaps?

I thought I saw raccoon prints, too, but perhaps they were dog prints.  I am not much of a tracker.


Duck prints, surely.

I didn’t see who made these prints, but I have seen mallards in the creek near here.

The marsh marigold is a lovely cheerful yellow color. True to its name, the it grows in spongy wet places.  The big rough leaves also seen here are the leaves of the skunk cabbage, which grows after the red flowering business dies away.

There are a couple of large and lovely colonies of marsh marigolds, Caltha palustris along the creek.  Photographing them up close is tricky because they are in such very wet conditions.  And there is so much buckthorn between the path and the marshy spots that its hard to photograph them from afar, too.

Wild ginger has this insignificant flower that always reminds me of an acorn. What you see here is actually the sepal; the flower is within.

Asarum canadense or the wild ginger is not food, so do not eat.  This is an easy to grow garden plant.  Was surprised to read that it is threatened in Maine.

Sedge, flowering.

A very useful Minnesota wildflower identification site has 183 sedges listed.  Perhaps I’ll figure out which one this is some day.

(The complete list, in alphabetical order.)

transportation, part 1: earliest days.

Background research at urbancreek.com continues on a near-daily basis. The great difficulty in telling stories about Minnehaha Falls is locating their edges. Bits of these tales come bobbing down the metaphorical creek, plunge over the lip of the cataract, and float downstream to meet the river. People and stories come to the Falls, though their tales might begin or end elsewhere. In that light, then, a bit about transportation. This is a big topic about which there is quite a lot to say.

Sepia-toned water fall picture.
Facing west: an early picture of Minnehaha Falls, taken in or after 1865. The north side of the creek, behind that zig zag fence, had been privately owned since the early 1850s.–from the urbancreek.com archives.

Continue reading “transportation, part 1: earliest days.”

Pavilions at Minnehaha, part 2

For many reasons, quite a few neighbors around Minnehaha Park absolutely hated the commerce that sprang up outside the park from the 1890s onwards.  All the commercial businesses were not equally hated. Everyone needed grocery stores near by, and James R. Hartzell was one who ran a grocery at 50th and Hiawatha. He was popular and respected. In many years he also ran the pony ride concession at the park.

But others running businesses near but outside the park had a harder time of it, with prominent citizens doing everything they could to run them out. This worked less well that one might think, though the ultimate result was that places designed to draw crowds and provide entertainments were closed down but neighborhood conveniences stayed.

The Hiawatha Confectionery in the summer of 1924. Apparently they sold everything from postcards to houses.  The place was at 4900 42d Ave. South in Minneapolis.  –from the urbancreek archives

Continue reading “Pavilions at Minnehaha, part 2”

Pavilions at Minnehaha, part 1.

This photograph is so worthy of study because the small refreshment stands, dance halls, illegal saloons, and “fakir booths” in or near the “Minnehaha Midway” were nearly never photographed. Only a handful of images from the era have come to light so far.

Two different refreshment pavilions just past the Minnehaha Depot. One has plenty of advertising, for Ives Ice Cream, Cream Soda, and Lunches. The other has a man looking down the tracks towards Minneapolis.–from the Minnesota Historical Society.

Continue reading “Pavilions at Minnehaha, part 1.”

railroad stories part 2: mapping the refreshment pavilions

the old train depot at Minnehaha Falls, and some buildings behind it
Facing west, at the south end of the Minnehaha “Little Princess” depot. Look beyond the depot building: there are 2 different businesses. –from the Minnesota State Historical Society.

Still looking at this intriguing image, it seems that the businesses beyond the railroad depot appear on a map from the Rascher Insurance Co. that fellow historian Stefan Songstad found at the MNHS library. The original map was printed in 1892, but it was revised multiple times. Continue reading “railroad stories part 2: mapping the refreshment pavilions”

Railroad stories, part 1: the Princess Depot and environs

The central story of Minnehaha Falls is the conflicting narratives between the virtuous, morally pure civic body and the goofy, rowdy, maybe-a-little-criminal nonsense that people actually engaged in. Call it control versus chaos, or even liberal versus conservative, though the situation had fuzzier edges that make it hard to push into any strict categories we might have today. But it was a real conflict that played out over generations. It really was a fight for the soul of Minnehaha Falls.

After the Minneapolis Board of Park Commissioners took ownership of the Falls in 1889, many of the refreshment vendors and fun-providers who had been located at the Falls migrated to the land just outside the park itself and set up for themselves there. Dance halls, ice cream stands and photo vendors went up on the land west of the park that is today Highway 55. Back then, it was the long thin block between Minnehaha Avenue and Hiawatha Avenue. It was called the Minnehaha Midway.

Minnehaha Falls in all her pristine and picturesque loveliness was photographed thousands of times, but the Midway was not. Only a few pictures exist of the Midway, and interpreting them has been a long-term project here at urbancreek.com. Below, one of those pictures:

the old train depot at Minnehaha Falls, and some buildings behind it
Facing west, at the south end of the Minnehaha “Little Princess” depot. This pretty little structure was built around 1875, and still stands today. But nothing else in this picture exists today. –image from the Minnesota State Historical Society, with permission under the “personal website” category.)

Continue reading “Railroad stories, part 1: the Princess Depot and environs”

A panorama of Minnehaha Falls

At its beginning, photography required innovators. Clever problem solvers envisioned the next innovations and then invented the solutions that would make those innovations possible.

One of these was Chicago’s John Carbutt, who invented—among other things—the celluloid film that made motion pictures possible. Carbutt, of course, also photographed Minnehaha Falls on several occasions in the 1860s. Another Minnehaha photographer who was a prominent photographic inventor and who worked at the turn of the last century was another Chicagoan: George Raymond Lawrence perfected aerial photography. It was quite a feat. Airplanes had not yet been invented.

A man with an impressive mustache who is probably in his 30s.
George R. Lawrence, probably taken after he perfected his “flashlight photography” and learned to contain the smoke and sparks of the simultaneous chemical explosions he used to illuminated large crowd shots.

Continue reading “A panorama of Minnehaha Falls”

going behind the Falls and getting hurt

It’s rare that Minnehaha Falls truly freezes completely. Even in the coldest winters, when you climb up behind the waterfall you can hear the trickling of moving water. Sometimes you can see the water moving through the ice.

The lip of the waterfall is more narrow than it used to be, and indeed has been getting narrower in the last 10 years with erosion. But every winter we see a wide curtain of icicles all across the western side of the Minnehaha Gorge. They are created by groundwater moving through the limestone layer that creates the lip of the falls. Starting in 1889, the Park Board has done a lot of work to de-water springs and redirect that groundwater, and much of that work has been successful. But the icicles still form.

Continue reading “going behind the Falls and getting hurt”

The “Hermits” of Minnehaha Park, part 4

a man rides away from hot pursuit, looking over his shoulder at the two men chasing him on horseback
This dime-novel-esque illustration of William Herrick fleeing hot pursuit perfectly conveys the breathless excitement of Herrick’s stories. And it was drawn by Art. M. Johnson, who was a lecturer at the University of Minnesota, and who went on to become a distinguished illustrator and botanist. –from the Library of Congress collection, preserved by the Internet Archive on hathitrust.org

Since we don’t know exactly where William Herrick’s sod house was, we don’t know whose permission he secured to build it.

Continue reading “The “Hermits” of Minnehaha Park, part 4″