Minnehaha Regional Park, Minneapolis, Minnesota—September 2016 44° 54’ 56”N 93° 12’ 36”W Elevation 760 feet
Founded in 1889, Minnehaha Park is the second oldest state park in the United States. The name comes from words in the Dakota language that mean waterfall, but its story is connected with the poem The Song of Hiawatha by the New England writer Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The 100-page poem was published in 1885, the year before the Minnesota Territorial Legislature authorized the town of Minneapolis on the Mississippi River’s west bank. In the poem, Hiawatha, a fictional Ojibwa boy, “Heard the lapping of the waters/ Sounds of music, words of wonder.” As a young man, he falls in love with and marries the Dakota woman Minnehaha, whose name Longfellow translates as “laughing water.” The Big Blue cairn stands in front of the falls, named for the heroine of Longfellow’s poem.