Norwegian businessman Bert Enger (1864-1931) left his estate to the city of Duluth, MN and to some charitable organizations. One third of the money was used to build a memorial tower and 330 acre park on Skyline Drive. The tower was dedicated by Olav, Crown Prince of Norway in 1939.
Enger Tower is five stories up with nice wide steps and railings so not a difficult climb. It is 80 feet tall and has an amazing panoramic view from the top. Today the park has a Japanese garden with a Peace Bell you can ring. It was a gift of Duluth’s sister city, Ohara-Isumi.
The Japanese Garden
Interesting note on the bell. The original Peace Bell which was in the former Cho-ei Temple, is the oldest remaining bell in Ohara, Japan. Ohara donated the bell to a wartime scrap drive but for some reason it was never destroyed. After WWI, in 1946, sailors on the USS Duluth found the bell and took it to the US giving it to the city of Duluth where it was displayed in City Hall. In 1951, the Dean of Chiba University School of Horticulture was pursuing academic travel in the US. He learned of the bell’s existence, met with the Mayor if Duluth, and asked for its return. Mayor George Johnson along with Professor Peterson of the University of Minnesota and the US Air Force and Navy, returned the bell to Ohara on May 2, 1954.
This bell is a close replica of the original bell and presented to Duluth as the Japan-US Friendship Peace Bell, dedicated on June 5, 1994.
Noerenberg Memorial Gardens is located on the shore of Lake Minnetonka, Minnesota’s ninth largest lake at 14,528 acres. The Noerenberg family lived on the land until 1972, when Lora Noerenberg Hoppe bequeathed it to the Park District on her death. Frederick Noerenberg, the founder of Grain Belt Brewery built the estate in 1890. The house is gone but the gardens feature tiered rose beds and manicured lawns in the English Landscape style. It is considered one of the finest formal gardens in Minnesota.
The City of Lake Elmo in Minnesota purchased 254 acres of land in order to keep out new housing developments in the area. The result is Sunfish Lake Park, a “regionally significant ecological area” including a 17 acre prairie restoration project. The park is home to over 13 species of birds with declining populations, deer and other small animals. We came across a deer staring right at us as we strolled through the woods.
The park is lush and green this time of year.
We were looking for the Sunfish Lake and it did not disappoint.
On the way back we stumbled on this nest that must have fallen from a tree.
The Sally Manzara Interpretive Nature Center is also on the grounds and includes this oversized birdhouse.
When I see the word Minnehaha I always think of a little laugh. However, Minnehaha is the Dakota word for waterfall. After the publication of the epic poem The Song of Hiawatha by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in 1855, Minnehaha falls in Minneapolis, Minnesota, became a big tourist attraction. Longfellow never made the visit. In the story, the warrior, Hiawatha, falls in love with a Dakota maiden.
From the water-fall he named her,
Minnehaha, Laughing Water
In the poem Minnehaha is translated as “Laughing Water”. This came from a translation by Mary Eastman in the book Dahcotah, which she published in 1849.
In 1889 the area around Minnehaha Falls became a Minneapolis City Park. A sculpture of Hiawatha carrying Minnehaha sits on a small island within the creek and bears the inscription “Over wide and rushing rivers In his arms he bore the maiden”.
The sculptor, Jacob Fjelde, was a Norwegian immigrant who settled in Minnesota around 1887. The sculpture was originally exhibited at the Chicago World’s Fair Columbian Exposition in 1893. The Expo celebrated the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Christopher Columbus to the New World.
Longfellow’s poem is purely fictional. At the time it was published it was very popular, although there were also racist negative reviews,
As an Indian Saga, embalming pleasantly enough the
monstrous traditions of an uninteresting, and one may
almost say, a justly exterminated race, the Song of
“Hiawatha” is entitled to commendation…Hiawatha, we
feel, will never add to Mr Longfellow’s reputation as a
poet. It deals with a subject in which we of the present
day have little interest; a subject too, which will never
command any interest upon its own intrinsic merits.
These Indian legends…are too clumsy too monstrous,
too unnatural to be touched by the Poet.”
The New York Times, December 28, 1855
However, it endured to become a part of American culture spawning musical pieces, artists renderings, parodies, and Disney cartoons (like it or not).
Longfellow used the trochaic meter instead of the iambic that is more comfortable for English speakers. It has a rhythm that is more common in languages like Finnish. Apparently Longfellow thought this imitated the rhythms of the speech of the First Peoples. If you read it aloud or recite it, it can lull you into a meditative trance.
In Minneapolis you will find Minnehaha Falls, Minnehaha Park, Minnehaha Creek, Minnehaha Academy, Minnehaha Avenue and Hiawatha Avenue. And not far from Minnehaha Falls is Lake Nakomis, named after Hiawatha’s grandmother.
Minnehaha Park is on the National Register of Historic Places, meaning it is thought to be worthy of preservation. Whether you like the poem or not, it is a beautiful place to visit. Yesterday was our first hot day in Minnesota for a very long time. It seemed like everybody was out enjoying it. I managed to get a few good shots of the falls.
This is what it looks like in winter:
Jamestown: The first permanent Colony of the English People. The Birthplace of Virginia and the United States of America, 1607
I spent the weekend visiting my cousins in Williamsburg. One afternoon was devoted to Colonial National Historical Park: Jamestown. A large African American park ranger named Jerome showed us around. He told us the three most important facts about Jamestown were: it was the first permanent settlement of the English in the New World (1607); the first representative assembly talks took place in 1619 where 22 elected burgesses met in the church; and the first Africans arrived in 1619. Therefore concluding that this very spot was the birthplace of the great country – The United States of America.
I had a small chuckle over this one since, of course, part of this great history was that the Native population was virtually killed off pretty quickly and by 1690 there were 9,300 enslaved Africans among a white population of 53,000. But why dwell on the negative?
These crazy Englishmen set up camp on an island with a swamp on one side and a salty river on the other. No fresh water. The swamp provided lovely benefits such as malaria and typhoid. By 1609 there were about 300 men living on this island, fighting off skirmishes from the Powhatan tribes. That winter was particularly rough and at the end of it only 60 survived. But they didn’t give up. Ninety unmarried women arrive in 1619 to boost morale.
We also learned that the 12 year old Pocahontas did not have an affair with the 27 year old John Smith (despite what Disney says). But they did probably know each other. The settlers eventually figured it all out and started growing tobacco. They were soon rich farmers with a huge market and very few expenses. John Rolfe cultivated a strain of tobacco that was pleasing to the English. He used seed he had obtained from Trinidad since the local variety was deemed too harsh. John Rolfe was the man who married Pocahontas.
Up until 1994, it was believed that the site had been reclaimed by the river and was lost under water. An archeologist by the name of William Kelso did not believe it. According to historical documents, the church was built inside the fort. The church tower remained on the island in clear site. In 1994, Mr. Kelso took a shovel to the site and soon found artifacts, bones, and evidence of the exact area where the walls of the fort were built. Today you can see them reconstructed in the very holes the men dug 400 years ago. William Kelso became an Honorary Commander of the Order of the British Empire at a ceremony at the British Embassy in Washington, DC, in July 2012.