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  • Since the mid-1800s Minnetonka has evolved from heavily wooded wilderness through extensive farming and thriving industrialization to its present primarily residential suburban character. The SiouxDakota and Ojibway Indians were the first people to settle in the area. They believed the land around Lake Minnetonka (minne meaning water and tonka meaning big) was the legendary home of an extinct race. The first recorded exploration of the area by European settlers was in 1822, when a group from newly constructed Fort Snelling made its way up Minnehaha Creek (then known as Brown's Creek or Falls Creek) to the lake. In 1851 the Dakotah sold the area including Minnetonka to the United States at Traverse des Sioux. The first census, the Territorial Census of 1857, lists 41 households. Twenty-nine of the heads of households are listed as farmers. The occupations of the remaining twelve are associated with the operations of Minnetonka Mill and a nearby hotel. In 1852 a claim was staked on Minnehaha Creek near McGinty Road. The sawmill that was constructed in the thick woods of maple treemaple, oak, elm treeelm, red cedar and basswood was the first privately-operated mill in Minnesota west of the Mississippi River. Oak timbers from this mill were used to build the first suspension bridge across the Mississippi River at St. Anthony Falls in 1853. The settlement of Minnetonka Mills that grew up around the mill was the first permanent European-American settlement west of Minneapolis in Hennepin County. In 1855 a two-story sawmill was constructed with a furniture factory on the second floor. A building for varnishvarnishing furniture was built on the south side of the creek, at the present Bridge Street. Production consisted mainly of chairs and bedsteads. The Minnetonka Republican at St. Anthony published a short article describing the area. The February 12, 1857 issue said: But competition from the mills at St. Anthony, the drowning of the mill's manager in 1857 and a fire in 1860 dashed the lofty hopes. From 1860 to 1869 the mill area had no active mill. In 1869, Thomas Perkins constructed a 3½ story flour mill and an ad joining cooper shop. At the peak of its production, around 1880, the mill ground about 400 barrels of flour daily and employed 18 men. One of its brands, "Snow Ball," was priced at $3.00 per hundred pound, and local farmers were paid $1.00 per bushel of wheat. From 1874 to the mid-1880s, Charles Burwell managed the Minnetonka Mill Company's operations. Milling played a major role in the development of Minnetonka and Minnehaha Creek provided power to operate these mills. Most of the earliest settlers were from New England and other eastern and central states, with Irish people settling in northern Minnetonka later. In the 1860s Scandinavians came where the climate and terrain reminded them of their native land. Immigrants from Czechoslovakia settled in the southern part of Minnetonka from 1854 to 1871. They contributed greatly to the professional, business and agricultural segments of the population. The raspberries they grew in Minnetonka for sale in Hopkins, MinnesotaHopkins prompted Hopkins to call itself "The Raspberry Capital of the World." In 1860, after only 8 years of operation, the sawmill closed. In 1869 a flour millflour and grist mill were constructed and operated until the late 1880s. In 1874 Charles H. Burwell came to manage the Minnetonka Mill Company, and he built a Victorian architectureVictorian home on the north bank of Minnehaha Creek (Minnetonka Boulevard at McGinty Road East) for his family the. The Burwell house is now on the National Register of Historic Places and is owned by the city. There were two other mills in Minnetonka. The St. Alban's Mill, which was less than a mile downstream from Minnetonka Mills on Minnehaha Creek, operated as a flour mill from 1874 to 1881. A grist mill built on Purgatory Creek was washed out in a flood shortly after construction. Minnetonka Mills, with its post office and port for Lake Minnetonka, was the principal business and trading center for a large area until the 1870s. Between 1883 and 1956 the area within the original 36 square mile township grew smaller as Wayzata, MinnesotaWayzata, Hopkins, MinnesotaHopkins, Deephaven, MinnesotaDeephaven, Woodland, MinnesotaWoodland and Saint Louis Park, MinnesotaSt. Louis Park incorporated or annexed portions of Minnetonka. Excellent transportation facilities to Hopkins and Minneapolis began to transform Minnetonka township's economy. Train service to Minneapolis had been available since the 1880s and in 1905 streetcar service began. The attraction to become a city wage earner was great and rapid transit made it possible. In 1956, as a maneuver to prevent neighboring villages from continuing to annex portions of Minnetonka township, residents in 1956 voted to establish a village out of the remaining twenty-eight square miles and the area was incorporated as Minnetonka Village. However, Minnetonka Village lasted only thirteen years. The complexities and the heavy demands of administering a rapidly developing community required professional management and larger representation. In 1969 a city charter was approved to serve the 35,000 residents. Ridgedale Shopping Center is located in Minnetonka. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minnetonka%2C_Minnesota

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