From Crow Wing Lake Campground – Brainerd, MN
Where it is said that the Mississippi “pauses” was the area to explore today. Here at the geographical center of the state of Minnesota the Ojibwa called it KaKaBikans……”the little squarely cut off rock”. It was a place where the Mississippi waters tumbled over an out-cropping of slate and granite to form a beautiful but sometimes tempestuous waterfall. It was these “little falls” in the river that attracted entrepreneurs to the area in the mid 1840s.
In October 1849 a year after the town of Little Falls was established the first of four dams was built at the site of this waterfall with each dam being an improvement. So with the completion of the 1887 dam the boom era of Little Falls began lead by electricity powering the city and industries arriving. A major industry to arrive was the Pine Tree Lumber Company operated by Charles Weyerhaeuser and R.D. Musser. This company and these gentlemen played a big role in the history and growth of this city.
Today you will not find the natural “little falls” as they lie beneath the large man-made dam. But there is still something both serene and exciting to see when the flowing waters of the Mississippi “pause” at the gates of the dam then force their way through the man-made chutes. This is reminiscent I’m sure of what the Ojibwa Indians saw as the waters “paused” before tumbling over the slate and granite rocks forming the “little falls”……………thus the place the Mississippi River “pauses”!
We enjoyed a walk through Maple Island Park this morning. It is considered the birthplace of Little Falls as it was here the city’s first industry was located at the base of the dam. Today this park is beautifully landscaped with flowers, fountain, foot bridge spanning the creek running through the park and lighted foot paths that run along the rocky banks of the river.
Almost next door to the park is the 1903 Burton-Rosenmeier House built for Barney Burton owner of several dry goods stores throughout central and northern Minnesota. The home was sold in 1921 to Christian Rosenmeier an attorney and state senator. Today it serves as the Little Falls Convention and Visitor Bureau. The home is available for tours but only Monday to Friday when the visitor bureau is open.
Located directly behind the Burton-Rosenmeier House are the houses of Charles Weyerhaeuser and Richard Drew Musser. Remember these were the owners of the lumber company that arrived during the boom era of the city. Built in 1898 these two neighboring houses sit on nine acres overlooking the Mississippi River. Today these Linden Hill Historic mansions are furnished with antiques and original heirlooms and are available for special events, weddings, retreats, family reunions, conferences and the like.
Little Falls also has several large colorful building murals for visitors to enjoy while touring the city. We found a few and have included them in the photos with this journal entry.
Now to the real reason at least 80% of visitors come to Little Falls and a main reason we have this river city designated on our GRR journey…………..boyhood home of Charles A. Lindbergh, Jr. Today we toured the home of this famous native of Little Falls who made aviation history when he flew a non-stop solo flight from New York to Paris in 1927 at the age of twenty-five.
This is actually the second home that Charles’s father built on this property. The first was a three-story mansion built in 1901 for him and his bride Evangeline. However the first home burned to the ground in 1905 and the present bungalow style home of a much simpler design was built on the remaining foundation of the mansion.
Charles spent his early boyhood summers here in this house on the Mississippi River in Little Falls while spending winters in Washington DC where his father was a member of Congress. Later he and his mother lived here year round and he ran the family farm totally by himself as his father and mother lived apart but never divorced.
In 1931 the Lindbergh family gave the entire 110 acres and the house to the State of Minnesota for a State Park to honor the elder Charles A. Lindbergh’s accomplishments. However in 1969 the house and 17 acres were separated from the Lindbergh State Park and given over to the Minnesota Historical Society to use in honor of the younger Charles A. Lindbergh, Jr. Today this is how the sites remain divided. Within what is still the State Park is the old tenant farmhouse and where the Ranger station sits was the site of a three-story barn used when this was the family farm.
Also located on the Charles A. Lindbergh, Jr. Historic Site is a visitor center where you can gain a perspective on the younger Lindbergh’s life and legacy. Numerous photographs and artifacts tell of his triumphs and tragedies as well as those of this family. You can even sit inside a full-scale replica of the “Spirit of St. Louis” cockpit and envision flying across the Atlantic. The exhibits in the visitor center are very informative and well displayed.
The boyhood house tour with stories given the Minnesota Historical Society by Charles, Jr. himself and today told by tour guides adds special interest to the tour. Then also knowing that the restoration of the home was under the meticulous guidance of “Lucky Lindy” himself and that all the furnishings, personal items and heirlooms seen in the house today were brought and placed there by the younger Lindbergh just as he remembered from his boyhood made it one of the most enjoyable tours of this kind we have been on. Would highly recommend visiting this historic site and for sure taking the tour of the home if you are ever in the central Minnesota area.
Well tomorrow is already what we have come to call “get ready day”. A day used to wash, clean, fuel the truck and basically put things away in preparation of leaving the next morning. So will not be exploring any more along this particular juncture of the Great River. Hope you enjoyed our brief stay here and what we did uncover.