Then & Now

In the late 1800s, agricultural discoveries at some of the large land-grant universities, such as the University of Minnesota, were often ignored by immigrant farmers who imported their agricultural techniques from Europe that had been passed down for generations.

Loungers around the lake in the summer can’t help but notice the flashy yellow antique steamship with a triangular red flag proclaiming “Minnehaha” as its smokestack puffs away into the blue sky.

It’s no surprise that Betty Peck of Shorewood is known as the human encyclopedia. After all, she’s been a fixture of the Excelsior-Lake Minnetonka Historical Society (ELMHS) for nearly 40 years, and has been witness to many changes in the lake-area community.

Native Americans and early white settlers around Lake Minnetonka knew of the abundant berries, chokecherries, plums and grapes that grew wild along the rich soil of the lake.

When Deephaven was a wild woodland with nothing more than a twisty wagon trail winding under the maple trees, Charles Gibson visited and envisioned a grand hotel on the spot.

Travel back in time to the days when pioneers were settling the lake area with a visit to the Western Hennepin County Pioneer Association (WHCPA) Pioneer Museum.

Frank Lloyd Wright's Deephaven home

When old houses are torn down along Lake Minnetonka to make way for more modern counterparts, architectural gems that don't fit present-day tastes sometimes succumb to the wrecking ball.

It isn’t the money. It isn’t the status. It isn’t the vacation. But for four generations of the Kokesh and Kraemer families, owning and operating hardware and general stores has been the kin’s vocation.

Hard-core sailors on Lake Minnetonka couldn’t wait until the warm summer breezes filled their sails. Instead, they took a cue from bundled New York yachtsmen on the Hudson River who built their ice boats beginning in the late 1790s to skate over the frozen ice.

The American Civil War broke out 150 years ago this year. More than 600,000 soldiers and civilians died in the bloodiest war our nation has ever fought. Although far on the frontier at the time, Lake Minnetonka was not immune to its effects.

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