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By the Waters of Minnetonka

2014
Author:

Eric Dregni

By the Waters of Minnetonka

Come explore the unruly and fascinating history of Lake Minnetonka—Minnesota’s most famous lake

Eric Dregni, who grew up in Minnetonka, sheds light on intriguing, if at times unsettling, aspects of the lake’s history, challenging myths and revisiting forgotten or glossed over elements of the past. He also relates—and sometimes pokes fun at—the opulent, glamorous, and sometimes raucous moments that have made Lake Minnetonka an icon of splendid resort living in Minnesota.

There’s a whole new way of appreciating Lake Minnetonka as a rich, storied, all-too-human place... At last someone wrote it down.

Mpls. St. Paul Magazine

Lake Minnetonka is renowned for its natural beauty as well as the prominent people it has attracted to its shores as a historic site of grand hotels, steamboats, and wealthy visitors from around the world and as the home of the legendary Excelsior Amusement Park. But did you know that early European settlers to the region faced conditions so dire that they named an outlet of the lake “Purgatory Creek”? Or that a ginseng boom brought slaves to Wayzata to harvest the plant’s roots? Many know that Frank Lloyd Wright designed famous homes around the lake, but few are aware he was also arrested there for living with his mistress and sent to the Hennepin County jail for “white slavery.”

By the Waters of Minnetonka uncovers remarkable and hidden facts about the lake and those who have lived on its shores, from the region’s original Dakota inhabitants to the present. Nineteenth-century plantation owners made Minnetonka into a summer vacation playground for the well-to-do, and Prohibition-era battles led teetotalers to hoax Minneapolis newspapers about bloody clashes between preachers and saloon owners.

Eric Dregni, who grew up in Minnetonka, sheds light on intriguing, if at times unsettling, aspects of the lake’s history, challenging myths and revisiting elements of the past that have been forgotten or glossed over. He also relates—and sometimes pokes fun at—the opulent, glamorous, and sometimes raucous moments that have made Lake Minnetonka an icon of splendid resort living in Minnesota.

By the Waters of Minnetonka

Eric Dregni is associate professor of English and journalism at Concordia University in St. Paul, Minnesota. He is the author of Minnesota Marvels: Roadside Attractions in the Land of Lakes; Midwest Marvels: Roadside Attractions across Iowa, Minnesota, the Dakotas, and Wisconsin; In Cod We Trust: Living the Norwegian Dream; Never Trust a Thin Cook and Other Lessons from Italy’s Culinary Capital; and Vikings in the Attic: In Search of Nordic America, all from Minnesota.

By the Waters of Minnetonka

There’s a whole new way of appreciating Lake Minnetonka as a rich, storied, all-too-human place... At last someone wrote it down.

Mpls. St. Paul Magazine

Eric Dregni’s lively illustrated history of the lake and its communities is ripe with sometimes wacky, always entertaining stories about the area’s gorgeous hotels, the peculiar businesses (ginseng distributing, ice harvesting, apple growing) and how this area grew from Indian country to become the playground of the elite.

Star Tribune

By the Waters of Minnetonka

Contents

Preface

1. “Big Water”
2. The Settlers Settle
3. Harvesting the Lake
4. Hotels and High Rollers
5. Enter the Trolleys
6. Hitting the Water
7. Work Hard, Play Harder

Afterword
For Further Reading