Lake Minnetonka is a large collection of interconnected bays in the western metro area of Minneapolis/Saint Paul, in Minnesota. Its largest bay is approxamately centered around 44.95 degrees north of the equator and 93.59 degrees west.
Cities that surround the lake include Minnetonka, Excelsior, Orono, Tonka Bay, Wayzata, Deephaven, & Mound. It is interesting to note that Minnetonka only touches one small very minor bay, and that other cities, such as Excelsior and Wayzata have a much larger land-share of lake-front property.
Many prominant people live on this lake, including Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, the Dayton family (as in Dayton-Hudson, Target, and one of the senators from Minnesota, Mark Dayton), the Pilsbury family, the guy who invented Breathe Right strips, and many many others.
What is the History of Lake Minnetonka?
Much has been written about the "discovery" (after all, the Native Americans were here first) of the great series of bays and lakes known as, "Lake Minnetonka." Most writers refer to a day in May of 1822, when two young men, Joseph Brown and his younger friend, John Snelling, ventured forth from Fort Snelling to find a lake that Native Americans had spoken of to them. They ventured up a creek that ran into the Mississippi River near the fort, past a magnificent waterfalls, past and through a series of lakes, none of which matched the description of the lake they were seeking. After perhaps 15 miles, they came upon a great marshland and a shallow lake that opened up into a great wide lake. This was the lake they were seeking.
They visited a big island where they found a native village of the Chippewa nation, Brown and Snelling returned from the native lands that surrounded the lake and creek with many stories of their adventures. The creek became known as, "Brown's Creek," the native name for the lake was, "Big Waters." Later the creek was renamed, "Minnehaha Creek," and the lake to, "Lake Minnetonka." "Minnetonka" is Dakota for big waters.
The actual discovery came perhaps thousands of years ago, by natives of this land who might have traveled from the vast prairie lands to the west into the forests of what is now central and northern Minnesota. There is archeological evidence to support that people lived for centuries in and about the lake area. When Brown and Snelling came, they found people living in villages along the shores of the lake. Later visitors found burial mounds. We now know that there were mounds near Mound, Cook's Bay, Bartlett's Point, Halsted's Bay, Crystal Bay, Spring Park, Starvation Point and other areas. Many homes on and around the lake are built on Indian Burial Grounds.
Time went on, and when the natives sold the land to the U.S. Government, the new pioneers built the area into farms and villages. Business and industry built structures along main streets and great boats parted the waters of the lake. Hotels were built and railroads extended rail lines into the area.