Name: The park was officially named Minnehaha State Park when it was purchased by Minneapolis for the state of Minnesota in 1889. In 1906 it was officially designated as a part of Mississippi Park, which included the parkways on both sides of the river and Riverside Park. The name Minnehaha comes from words in the Dakota language that mean waterfall. The popular translation of “laughing waters” comes from a felicitous, but too literal Anglophone translation of “ha ha”.
Acquisition and Development
Minnehaha Falls and the land surrounding it became one of the first state parks in the United States when it was purchased by the state of Minnesota in 1889. Only New York had created a state park at that time. But the state of Minnesota only paid for the park indirectly and never had a hand in maintaining it. The city of Minneapolis put up the money to buy it and managed it from the beginning.
The earliest plans of Minneapolis’s Board of Park Commissioners didn’t address the falls because it was located far outside city limits at the time. Horace Cleveland in his blueprint for the city’s parks in ...