May 2012

The Falls of Minnehaha flash and gleam
By Steve Date | 08:10 am   From MinnPost – with permission

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Visitors sometimes break the rules get a better view from under the ledge.
“Where the Falls of Minnehaha
Flash and gleam among the oak-trees,
Laugh and leap into the valley.”

Minnehaha Falls

Minnehaha Falls – photo by Steve Date

Minnehaha Falls in Minneapolis became well-known after Henry Wadsworth Longfellow penned these words in 1855 in Song of Hiawatha. The “laughing waters” tumble 53 feet from a Platteville Limestone ledge as Minnehaha Creek nears the end of its 22-mile journey from Lake Minnetonka to the Mississippi River.

Czech composer Antonin Dvorak visited Minnehaha Falls in September of 1893, shortly after publication of his “New World” Symphony. It’s been reported that he lingered at the falls for over an hour, and was quite taken with the view. “It is so intensely beautiful that words cannot describe it,” he said. Having no paper available, the story goes that he wrote a musical theme in rough form on the cuff of his shirt, which later became the slow movement of his Sonatina in G major, opus 100.

Visitors today not only enjoy views from above the falls, but staircases take them down to the base, where a recently rebuilt pathway allows for an easy hike to the place where Minnehaha Creek flows into the Mississippi River.

I spent a couple of hours recently walking from the falls to the river with my camera.

Minnehaha Park is one of the oldest parks in the celebrated Minneapolis Park system. While there’s much more to do there than gaze at the falls, the “laughing waters flashing and gleaming among the oak trees” remains the main attraction and a truly beautiful place to spend a couple of hours.

There’s no sign that says “Take photo here,” but there probably should be.