Coldwater Journal is a record of personal observations and reflections from visits to the Coldwater campus.

Please feel free to submit your thoughts and reflections about Coldwater for posting here on the FRIENDS of COLDWATER site via email.
Coldwater Journal is chronologically reversed. The newest postings are first.
(click for 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 journal)
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Saturday, 9.25.10
Spring Healing People and People Healing Spring

(Coldwater Park) The Global Site Performance, ColdWATER ~ SacredWATER, a site-specific dance performance at Coldwater Spring, developed into an unscripted grand finale of 200-plus happy, dancing people forming a living circle around the entire Spring and reservoir area.

It felt like Spring healing People and People healing Spring.
There were reports of eagles as relatives from many nations and many directions and many times seemed to draw near for a bright moment.

Peter Podulke
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Wednesday, 9.22.10
All Fall Down

(Coldwater Park) The ground is so saturated that an ash tree tipped over, in a piece, in front of the Main Building. It appears that southeast straight-line winds caused the damage late Monday. Just outside the fence a cottonwood fell and has already been power-sawed into polite pieces for bike trail and upper road access.

There is storm litter all over the Coldwater campus. Beside the reservoir the great willow lost its topmost limb that now rests in the parking area. The National Park Service plans to clear the parking area tomorrow. On the hillside above the spring part of that Virginia creeper-laden tree trunk fell on the new white, erosion control fabric. That felled tree will be left in place.

Oh, woe!—and we are expecting a huge rain event with flood warnings tonight and tomorrow! On the other hand, the land is returning to prairie.

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Wednesday, 9.08.10
Flora in Coldwater Spring?

(Coldwater Park) On September 8, Friends of Coldwater received this message:

I attended the National Park Service invasives removal (“Habitat Restoration”) event at Coldwater Spring on Saturday, July 31st. Prior to leaving the event I consumed a water bottle (~20 oz) of water from the spring (unfiltered/untreated).

A week later I started experiencing symptoms characteristic of what could be Giardia or Cryptosporidium. Tests for Shigella, Giardia, and E coli (and a few others, but cryptosporidium wasn't tested) have come back negative. Giardia doesn't always show up, and I have responded to Metronidazole (Flagyl).

It is entirely possible I picked up something somewhere else but I wanted to check if anyone else had reported a similar observation post-consumption of spring water on or around that day.

Given the high rainfall we have received this year and the presence of raccoons, squirrels, waterfowl, deer, and dogs in the area, I think drinking the spring water was probably a bad idea on my part. At this point in time I am just trying to figure out where I picked this up and what it is.

If you have any info let me know. Don't worry. This won't deter me from attending future events.

Oy! S.B. To the best of our knowledge we have never had a negative reaction to Coldwater Spring water. Coldwater supporters have been drinking it for years, including myself.

We suggest that people gather water from inside the Spring House at the northwest corner where the flow out of limestone bedrock is greatest. Some people prefer to take water from the pipe as water exits the Spring House into the reservoir. Nevertheless we have never had an illness report from drinking Coldwater Spring water.

Thank you so much for working on land reclamation at Coldwater. We hope you have a full recovery.

—Susu Jeffrey
For Friends of Coldwater
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Saturday, 7.31.10
Habitat Restoration at Coldwater Park

(Coldwater Park) Most of the 50 people who volunteered to help restore the land had not been to Coldwater before. These were green-minded urban athletes, not the usual eco-spiritualists or history buffs.

National Park Service employees in uniform with the I-wish-I-had-one-of-those-hats laid out the job. Drag a bi-zillion buckthorn trees out of the steep woods on the Mississippi bluff so they can be picked up and trucked to a waste-to-energy facility.

Hundreds of the invasive, exotic understory European trees (with little black berries spread by birds) were cut and painted in May and June by a Great Lakes exotic special crew. Buckthorn is out of balance here where it grows so thickly it shades out native plants. Without the natives there are not enough roots to hold the soil in place and we have serious erosion problems on this precipitous landscape.

So there we were gloved, in long pants and goggles in 80-something degrees with climbing humidity. Amazing, these amazing volunteers—and their kids—dragged trees to various pick up sites, some staying for the entire 6-hour workday. The work was so intense that people only spoke to stay out of each other’s way.

These men and women and children looked like normal people but turned out not to be. They lifted and pulled trees out of a hill of twisted together buckthorn, plowed up the bluff to deposit that load, and then went back for more. And more. The piles of buckthorn brush disappeared from the woods and reappeared at the roadside. Strong doesn’t begin to describe these extremely fit people, aged 6 to 72 years. Not only are they strong and fit, add cheerful and polite.

“I’m a National Park Service volunteer,” one woman said. Others came from Great River Greening and a few from Friends of Coldwater. The amount of labor these folks gave is awesome. A million thanks to you and please come back to Coldwater.

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Monday, 6.21.10, Summer Solstice
Healing Prayer for the Gulf: Focusing our energies in response to the Gulf tragedy for healing the waters and its inhabitants

(Coldwater) Many people concerned with water recognize Dr. Masaru Emoto as the scientist from Japan who has done research and published books about the characteristics of water. Among other things, his findings and photographs reveal that water physically responds to emotions.

While anger at BP’s incompetence is justified, we may be of greater assistance to our planet and its life forms if we sincerely, powerfully and humbly pray the prayer that Dr. Emoto has proposed.

Prayer has power and direction. We are passing this request to people who might be willing to participate in this prayer, to set an intention of love and healing.
"I send the energy of love and gratitude to the water and all the living creatures in the Gulf of Mexico and its surroundings.
To the whales, dolphins, pelicans, fish, shellfish, plankton, coral, algae, and all living creatures . . .I am sorry.
Please forgive me.
Thank you. 
I love you.".
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Friday, 05.28.10
Copper Thieves Caught at Coldwater

(Coldwater) Two local men were arrested after burglarizing the abandoned Main Building on the Coldwater campus for about 100-pounds of copper pipe. The Friday arrests will result in federal felony charges since Coldwater is federal land. The copper would be worth about $2.55-per-pound.

In an email exchange Paul Labovitz, National Park Service superintendent of the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area (MNRRA), wrote that the earliest the deserted buildings could be removed is spring of 2011 despite a timeline confusion in the television report on KSTP-TV, Channel 5 (link).

“If a miracle occurred and we had a federal budget the first day of the fiscal year, we could only hope for an accelerated contracting process for demo and that would take awhile. Spring 2011 demo or late winter is our fondest dream. Glad the police are stepping up (patrols at the Coldwater site).”

Labovitz asks Coldwater supporters to “keep your eyes open over there and take license numbers and call the police if you see anything out of line.”

Since the Bureau of Mines closed in 1991 and then FEMA moved out in 1995, the buildings have been used for storage, or as bomb squad training by the Hennepin County sheriff, a palette for graffiti artists, a target for kid vandals and sometimes a homeless shelter. The Main Building has been a drug shooting gallery. Black mold and asbestos infests some buildings.

oldwater Spring is the last natural spring in Hennepin County. The soldiers who build Fort Snelling (1820-23) camped around the spring which has been called the Birthplace of Minnesota. Coldwater furnished water to the Fort from 1820-1920.

Previous to European settlement the spring was considered sacred by Dakota, Anishinabe, Ho Chunk, Iowa, Sauk and Fox peoples who gathered for cultural and spiritual events above the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers. Coldwater Spring is estimated to be at least 10,000 years old.

—Susu Jeffrey
For Friends of Coldwater
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Friday, 04.23.10
If You Love Coldwater

(Coldwater) Go visit. Coldwater needs more traffic, especially on weekends.

Since the disrespectful act at Coldwater Spring House (Saturday, 4.17.10) people have placed new offerings around the land. These offerings are also signs for people to recognize Coldwater as a special landscape.

Be a volunteer “docent” (person who leads guided tours especially through a museum or art gallery). Coldwater is museum-quality land—a 10,000-year-old spring that still sings. Tell your Coldwater stories to folks who are roaming about.

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Saturday, 04.10.10
Hanging Out at Coldwater

(Coldwater) Dave Fudally gave a tour at Coldwater today and hung around talking history with the intensely interested. Dave said the rumor about a bear shot with an irradiated bullet and buried on land near Coldwater has a paper trail that got classified in the mid-1990s. Coldwater just grabs you and there is no end to the human and land history at this one place on Earth.

Bad News
From “Is This Factory Farming's Tobacco Moment?” by Will Allen and Ronnie Cummins, Saturday, April 10, 2010,

The nation's chemical and energy-intensive food and farming system, Food Inc., is out-of-control, posing a mortal threat to public health, the environment, and climate stability...

Besides the damage to human health from pesticide use, chemical
agriculture's use of synthetic fertilizers and sewage sludge have polluted the nation's streams, creeks, rivers, oceans, drinking water, and millions
of acres of farmland. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Environmental Working Group, two-thirds of the U.S. population is drinking water contaminated with high levels of nitrates and nitrites, caused by nitrate fertilizer runoff from factory farms.

Good News
Coldwater. Coldwater still flows. Coldwater is the last natural spring in all of Hennepin County.

The National Park Service (NPS) plans to remove Coldwater campus buildings next winter when the ground is hard-frozen to minimize land damage. Government appropriation wheels turn slowly in the civilian American economy.

A pair of otter tracks was seen at Coldwater reservoir this past winter by a commercial fisherman hired by the NPS. The otters apparently went for the invasive carp and squirmed up the Mississippi bluff. Wow!—otters, snakes, frogs, dragonflies, not to mention trees, birds, deer, coyotes and people. Coldwater is alive and the water is always moving.

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Monday, 02.15.10
Grandmother Willow

(Coldwater) Long twigs of the great willow beside Coldwater reservoir glow golden on sunny days with a promise of spring. The subtle change from brown to yellow accompanies longer days. In February we gain about 20-minutes of daylight each week.

Global climate forces currently funnel moisture northward from the Gulf of Mexico to fuel record snow storms in the eastern United States. Already weather pundits are predicting a wetter spring this year.

Last spring grass fires topped every radio and TV newscast in April. On the 15th an elderly Coldwater “supporter” set fire to the Spirit Tree by burning sage in the accumulated duff in the tree’s hollow.

Grandmother Willow is being threatened this year with fires by other “supporters.” Campfires have been repeatedly set on top the tree roots and beneath the dancing branches with their slightly swollen buds.

Strange to celebrate a sacred water site with fire.

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Friday, 02.12.10
National Park adds Coldwater Unit!

Irene Jones
River Corridor Program Director

(Coldwater) The Mississippi National River and Recreation Area (MNRRA) — a National Park corridor that extends from Dayton and Ramsey, downstream to Hastings — has nearly doubled its landholdings overnight. Established in 1988 to operate as a partnership park with over 30 state and local government partners, MNRRA owned just 34 acres of land in the corridor (all islands), until earlier this month when ownership of the 27-acre former Bureau of Mines property officially became part of the National Park.

Nestled between Minnehaha Park and Fort Snelling State Park, the site connects key parks, trails and historic places. Long the subject of debate and controversy, public ownership and protection of the Bureau of Mines site is good news all around. Coldwater Spring is a beloved and historic part of this site for many community members, including Native Americans who consider the spring sacred.

Plans for the site include demolition of the buildings, contamination cleanup, soil reclamation and restoration of prairie and other appropriate native plant communities. Public trails and access will be included and the site's rich and varied history will be interpreted.

The Record of Decision (available on MNRRA's website) was the final step in the Environmental Impact Statement done for the property in anticipation of transferring ownership. The decision puts into action the preferred alternative — to restore the land to open space and park. The Record of Decision also designated the National Park Service as the management authority for the property.

Stay tuned for updates on federal appropriations and planning for the site.
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Wednesday, 02.10.10
Decision made on Coldwater Spring site. Demolition of federal buildings, restoration of property planned

Kevin Driscoll
Highland Villager

(Highland) U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has issued a record of decision that officially transfers management of the former U.S. Bureau of Mines property in South Minneapolis to the National Park Service as part of the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area (MNRRA). The decision calls for demolishing the 11 dilapidated buildings on the site and restoring the 27-acre property to its natural condition.

The property, which is located off Highway 55 between Fort Snelling and Minnehaha Park, includes Coldwater Spring. The spring was the primary source of water for the soldiers who built the fort and holds spiritual significance for some American Indians.

Congress closed the Bureau of Mines research campus in 1995 and later designated the National Park Service (NPS) to determine the disposition of the site. The NPS began a planning process in 2004 and completed a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) two years later. A final EIS was completed last December and the record of decision was signed last month.

The whole process might have been over in 2001 had the terrorist attacks of 9/11 not occurred. A deal had been struck with the Metropolitan Airports Commission to take over the land for $6 million, but the offer was subsequently withdrawn.

The task of planning for the demolition of the buildings, which have sat empty since 1997, and the restoration of the land to open space has now been assigned to Alan Robbins-Fenger, a land-use planning specialist with the MNRRA.

“A separate but parallel mission is the prevention of any further deterioration of Coldwater Spring,” Robbins-Fenger said. “There’s been some erosion around the spring house, which is roofless, and the walls of the reservoir have been wearing away.”

The safety of the former Bureau of Mines buildings is also an issue, according to MNRRA superintendent Paul Labovitz. “There’s evidence that kids have broken into the buildings,” he said, “and obvious signs of partying and graffiti. But our main concern is that these are old buildings and there’s asbestos and mold in them, both of which are dangerous.”

Robbins-Fenger said securing the buildings will be the first order of business. Afterward, he said staff and volunteers will be uprooting the buckthorn that has overrun the area, particularly around the spring house.

The schedule becomes a bit fuzzier after that. Precise dates for razing the buildings are not set yet. “We have yet to get the money from Congress for the project,” Labovitz said. “That won’t likely be available until early next fiscal year, which starts October 1.”

Labovitz said the MNRRA is working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which has been responsible for the management of the site since the Bureau of Mines closed, to develop the plan for demolishing the buildings. The cost is expected to be about $3 million, which includes dealing with the hazardous materials.

“Beyond that, we don’t know how much money we’ll need because we don’t know exactly what we’re going to do,” Labovitz said.

During the planning, Robbins-Fenger said officials will be documenting the buildings and conducting an archeological survey of the land that was never developed.

“We have to make sure we don’t remove or destroy any cultural or historical artifacts that were there before we were,” he said. “We need to do some research into the original natural state of the area. Do we restore the land to oak and savannah grasses or keep much of what’s there? Do we link up with nearby bike trails and maybe add some of our own? What kinds of amenities, such as drinking fountains, bathrooms, hiking trails, picnic benches and visitor information, should we provide?”

Robbins-Fenger said any changes to the Coldwater Spring area will require consultation with preservation specialists and local federally recognized Indian tribes, including the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux and the Prairie Island Sioux Community.

“At specific stages of the planning we’ll be calling in various other interested parties,” he said. Those might include staff from Fort Snelling State Park, Friends of the Mississippi and Friends of Coldwater. “We’ll also be poring through the many suggestions and comments we received during the public meetings and comment periods,” he said.

Barring the allocation of money earlier than expected, Robbins-Fenger said he does not expect major work on the site to begin before spring of 2011.

“In the end, we think (the public) should look forward to a much more pleasant environment around Coldwater Spring,” he said.

Periodic updates on the project’s progress will be posted at

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Wednesday, 01.20.10
Coldwater Park—It’s Official!

(Coldwater) The National Park Service announced today that “Management of the former Bureau of Mines, Twin Cities Research Center (TCRC) 27.3 acre property, has officially been transferred to the National Park Service and made a unit of the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area (MNRRA).”

Coldwater will become the “open green space” Congressman Martin Sabo called for in his 2003 appropriation to determine future land use for this Mississippi blufftop property south of Minnehaha Park.

Coldwater Park was labeled on local maps from the 1880s to 1950. Coldwater has been part of MNRRA since 1988. Friends of Coldwater will now press for expansion of park property to include unofficial surrounding parkland for one contiguous urban wilderness from the top of the bluff to the Mississippi.

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Friday, 01.01.10
Happy New Year from Coldwater...
photo: SJ
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