Some pictures of Minnehaha Falls and the area around it add more mystery than they solve.
This picture shows the 1880s fence on the north side of the falls. It shows that the ground was trampled bare on the south side, which was a problem the Park Board worked to solve as soon as they took ownership.
There are nearly no other pictures of Minnehaha taken from this spot. This is a unique image.
And it is indeed Minnehaha: the waterfall can be glimpsed between the horse’s tail and the lap robe thrown over carriage front. But what to make of the constructed edge just between the buggy and the Falls? Straight edges almost always mean something architectural.
Quite possibly that straight stone edge is seen from the other side in this post. Possibly the Park Board stabilized the edge, then grew grass and put up railings, wire fences, the bridge above the Falls, and all those other improvements, all in the space of a few years.
Unfortunately, by the turn of the last century, the job of professional photographer left Minnehaha Falls, and with it the vast piles of 19th century souvenir shots that constitute the photographic record. In the 20th century the photographic record is much harder to find and much harder to study. That’s why this photograph is unique.