Before the Park Board owned Minnehaha Falls, it was in private hands. Here, an un-recorded photographer took this family’s portrait on some sort of built platform structure on the south side of the Minnehaha gorge.
Even without a mist-throwing torrent flinging itself over the edge of the Falls, the Falls had its charm. But the Park Board was responsible for the public’s safety.
“Persons are not allowed…” It’s an advisory tone, not a mandate. That sign also mars the picturesqueness of the scene.
The Park Board seems to have gotten the groundwater problem under control here, as the catchbasin is gone and the surface looks dry. This rare look at the sides and edges shows just how gigantically inappropriate this viewing platform was.
It’s that fence that helps date this picture. Most likely it was taken after the scandalous 1857 purchase of Fort Snelling by Franklin Steele and his shadowy partners from Back East. That was the first time that Steele owned the Falls of Minnehaha.
Here’s another nicely posed tourist at Minnehaha, on the Park Board’s large stone platform. During the 1890’s, the Park Board also built the boulder wall that still exists today on the north side of the gorge.
Some early stone retaining walls are shown in this picture of the first landing on the south side of the Minnehaha gorge.
This landing was rebuilt sometime after 1958. The flooding shown may be from recent heavy rains, or it might be an unsolved groundwater engineering problem.
In 1889, the Minneapolis Park Board finally took control of Minnehaha Falls. After years and years of legal fighting over this land (but with more lawsuits to come) the Park Board ultimately prevailed.