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History of Coldwater Springs ::::
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Minnehaha Park was the first state park in the United States (1878), the second was Niagara Falls. Following the 1855 publication of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s Song of Hiawatha, the falls, with its 53-foot drop, became a hugely popular tourist destination.

Coldwater is a 10,000-year-old spring that flowed at a pre-construction rate of 100,000-144,000 gallons a day. In addition to being a living geological museum, Coldwater was a traditional gathering place for Native American tribes of the upper Mississippi that used spring water for specific ceremonies requiring sacred water in a sacred landscape. The powerful Dakota god of waters and the underworld is said to dwell at Coldwater Spring. Coldwater is also the birthplace of Minnesota, where the soldiers lived who built Fort Snelling and site of the pioneer settlement whose citizens founded St. Paul and Minneapolis. Coldwater furnished water to Fort Snelling for 100 years.

Minnehaha Falls is about a mile north of Coldwater Spring. Both are on the Mississippi River bluff that forms the only true river gorge on the entire 2,350-mile length of the Mississippi. The gorge runs 9 miles from the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers to the cataract now called the Falls of St. Anthony.

“We know that the falls which came to be known as Minnehaha Falls,” said Eddie Benton Benais, grand chief of the Mdewiwin Society (Medicine Lodge) from northern Wisconsin, “was a sacred place, was a neutral place, a place for many nations to come….There’s a spring near the lodge that all nations used to draw the sacred water for the ceremony….My grandfather who lived to be 108, died in 1942 … many times he retold how we traveled, how he and his family, he as a small boy traveled by foot, by horseback, by canoe, to where there would be these great religious, spiritual events. And that they always camped between the falls and the sacred water place.”

The Coldwater area is located along the Mississippi River gorge above the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers. Coldwater park land includes the bluff-top greenway and wildlife corridor that stretches from Fort Snelling through Minnehaha Park.

Camp Coldwater - Birthplace of Minnesota
by Bruce White and Dean Lindberg

Camp Coldwater Facts
Compiled by Susu Jeffrey

(clicking on a link below opens a new window. Close to return here)

Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota Community

Preserve Camp Coldwater Coalition

Minnesota Historical Society - Fort Snelling

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources - Fort Snelling
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