"We are all of us living in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars." ~Oscar Wilde
"Adventure is worthwhile in itself." ~Amelia Earhart

August 5, 2010

The Sculptures of Minnehaha Falls

There are three sculptures that I know of in the park surrounding Minnehaha Falls. There may be more. I haven't often gone down into the lower section or the extreme southern portions. But, these are the three I know of.

Gunnar Wennerberg

I'm not sure why this statue is here. When I took the photo, I didn't see a plaque nearby. When I was looking on the web for information about Wennerberg, though, I saw the photo below on Wikipedia (link). The poetry verse is written in both Swedish and English.

Wennerberg Plaque
Photo Source: Wikipedia

"Gunnar Wennerberg
Swedish poet, composer, educator and statesman

Oh God, who rulest fate of nations,
Almighty Thou, in every land;
Who holdest life and death's privations
Within the hollow of thy hand,
Whatever punishment thou weldest
For svea's sins of yore 'gainst thee,
Endure she will, if thou but shieldest,
Her immemorial liberty

Statue presented to the city of Minneapolis
June 24, 1915 by
Wennerberg Memorial Association"
Colonel John H. Stevens
This second sculpture is more familiar to me. Behind the statue is the Stevens House, the first house built in Minneapolis. The house was originally located near St. Anthony Falls but was moved to Minnehaha Falls in 1896.

"Col. John H. Stevens
Born June 13, 1820
Died May 28, 1900
First settler in the city of Minneapolis"

The first sculpture placed in the park, though, is "Hiawatha and Minnehaha" and is a tribute to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem, "Hiawatha".

Hiawatha and Minnehaha
near Minnehaha Falls

I would post the whole poem here but it's long enough to fill a book. Luckily, though, it's in the public domain and can be found here (link). I'll give you a couple of stanzas though:

Downward through the evening twilight,
In the days that are forgotten,
In the unremembered ages,
From the full moon fell Nokomis,
Fell the beautiful Nokomis,
She a wife, but not a mother.

She was sporting with her women,
Swinging in a swing of grape-vines,

When her rival the rejected,
Full of jealousy and hatred,
Cut the leafy swing asunder,
Cut in twain the twisted grape-vines,
And Nokomis fell affrighted
Downward through the evening twilight,
On the Muskoday, the meadow,
On the prairie full of blossoms.
"See! a star falls!" said the people;
"From the sky a star is falling!"

From the plaque:
"Hiawatha and Minnehaha
by Jacob Fjelde

Erected in 1911 by means of funds
raised through the efforts of
Mrs. L.P. Hunt of Mankato,
and contributed principally
by the school children
of Minnesota."


Jean-Paul said...

a very interesting post... nicely done! :)

charmie said...


sandy said...

Lovely sculptures, why does the 2nd one look like bandate? With a kerchief over his face like an outlaw?


Berryvox said...

Sandy - Oh, I think it's a beard. Plus, it BADLY needs restoration work.

Vera said...

Is this park near your house? I think it's amazing if it is, to just have somewhere to go and hangout, and where kids can learn a bit of history and culture too. Where I grew up we have something like a park but not quite. Cause what it is really is a basketball court with big space around it for kids to run around, play and all. The historical landmarks you have to seek out, though there are some not so far away.

Berryvox said...

Vera - It's about 3-4 miles away from my current house but I grew up less than a mile away. My friends and I would often ride our bikes over there and climb on some of the (small) cliffs. It is a great place. :)

I was pretty oblivious to the history of the place when I was young. Local history just wasn't covered in my schools and nobody around me was very interested.

Vera said...

Thanks for the response :) I think that not many people are conscious in preserving history or passing on the stories outside of the school, specially here.