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RIVER LIFE

#TBT: Hidden Falls Park: Maybe Less Hidden in New Plan

A week or so ago, I was pleased to see an article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune that stormwater management at the old Ford plant site could boost water flow over Hidden Falls, an intermittent stream that leaves the vacant industrial property through a steep ravine on its way to the Mississippi River. The Ford plant site, nearly 150 acres of industrial property on a bluff above the Mississippi in St. Paul, is perhaps the premier redevelopment site in the Upper Midwest.  Whatever happens here will have a substantial impact for generations; it’s appropriate that stormwater management is getting a lot of attention.  I have had students develop options for the Ford site and for Hidden Falls Park over the years; it’s an interesting intersection of river and city.

On a whim, I went to the Minnesota Historical Society web site to see what it had for historical photos of the park.  I found two that were pertinent.

Nikon D2X capture of original.

This image, dated to 1938, shows the wall and stairway made by WPA crews in the park.  Only ruins of this structure remain; it’s interesting to see what was there before.  Beautiful work.


As is so often the case when doing historical research, you sometimes find more than you were looking for.  The metadata for this image says that it was made in July 1939 and shows police, WPA officials, and striking workers.  A strike?! What was that about?  In all of my years working on Mississippi River history, the history of labor on and along the river is one subject that I have found very little material about.  Whole new possibilities open up.

But then, it’s the Mississippi River, so I should expect that, right?

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