Then & Now

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.

Lake Minnetonka was opened to European settlers by the Treaty of Traverse des Sioux, named for a Dakota meeting place, Oiyuwege, one mile north of St. Peter. Minnesota’s first territorial governor, Alexander Ramsey, was eager to open lands to the west to increase the state’s wealth.

Since they were entrepreneurs first, Melvin and Harley Bennett didn’t want to go by the way of the horse and buggy—literally.

Early European visitors to Lake Minnetonka noticed lots of conical mounds on high points around the shore. These pioneers first started settling along the Mississippi River and found thousands of mysterious burial mounds in prominent spots overlooking the water.

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