How Big Is 56 Acres
How Big Is 56 Acres – Although the island is part of Orono, the mayor of Orono said the park will be used by everyone who loves Lake Minnetonka.
Over the centuries, the island has been home to a Native American maple syrup operation, a steamboat stop, an amusement park, a music casino, a gambling ranch, a veterans’ camp and the homes of two of Lizzie Borden’s uncles.
How Big Is 56 Acres
The renovated park includes wooden walkways, limestone benches, plaques with information on the island’s history and, here and there, subtle concrete remnants of its glorious past.
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The town of Orono, which owns the 56-acre property, has built trails, installed plaques and restrooms in the park, which occupies the east end of the 273-acre island.
“It’s probably the largest property in Orono that doesn’t have a home,” Orono Mayor Denny Walsh said at a ribbon-cutting ceremony in September to celebrate the official opening of the park. to the public. “It took years to prepare.”
The $740,000 project includes $300,000 from the Legislature’s bail bill, $200,000 from the Department of Natural Resources, $130,000 from the city and $82,000 from private donations. Donations from the project’s design and engineering firm remain.
The island sits between Orono and Excelsior on Lake Minnetonka, the Twin Cities’ largest and most popular recreational lake. The park’s new ADA-accessible trails wind through woods, an open grassy area, and a beach with long views of the lake.
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Although the island is part of Orono, he said the park would be used by anyone who loves Lake Minnetonka. “It’s not Orono, it’s not Excelsior, it’s everyone.”
The Big Island’s history of use dates back approximately 10,000 years, when glaciers receded, leaving behind a 14,500-acre lake. Indigenous peoples occupied the area, hunting, fishing, and exploiting the island’s abundant maple trees for syrup and sugar. The Dakota called the island Wíta Táŋka—meaning Big Island (Wíta means “island” and Táŋka, “big, big, or big”).
White settlers arrived in the 1800s. When Minnesota became a territory in 1849, the American government pressured the Dakotas to cede their land, and the Indians were eventually driven from the area.
Judge Bradley Meeker claimed the island in 1856 after exploring the island with Minnesota Governor Alexander Ramsey. He named it Meeker’s Island, but gave up the land after two years. Brothers William and John Morse bought the island in 1861 and renamed it Morse Island.
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“William owned the east side of the island, including the current park, and John owned the west side of the island,” said Aaron Persson, president of the Wayzata Historical Society. John Morse moved a few years later, but William and his wife remained on the island for decades, operating a beer garden at the north end of the current park, the person said.
“They allowed people to camp on their property, which was a very popular thing for the upper and middle classes after the Civil War,” Person said.
The Morses were the uncles of Lizzie Borden, the famous woman tried and acquitted of murdering her father and stepfather in 1892 in Fall River, Mass.
Ownership has changed hands over the years. In 1905, the Twin City Rapid Transit Company, which operated streetcar systems throughout the metropolitan area, built an amusement park on the island in hopes of increasing streetcar traffic to Excelsior.
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The park attracted thousands of visitors, who were taken to the island on steam ferries. The Big Island amusement park has a nearly 200-foot water tower near the center of the park, as well as a 186-foot-tall lighthouse with electric lights visible from all points on the lake, according to the records of the city. The park also featured a 1,500-seat musical casino.
However, due to its high operating costs and lack of winter revenue, the attraction was not a success, lasting only six seasons and closing in 1911. In 1917 most of the buildings were dismantled and the rebar was melted down for use in World War I. , city records show.
“Remnants of the grandeur of the Big Island amusement park can still be seen at the site, including the grand entrance staircase and the old basement hidden among the island’s wooded glens,” records state. from the city.
Although legend has it that the island’s roller coaster was moved to the Excelsior amusement park, which opened in 1925, that was not the case, the person said. The coaster was demolished along with the rest of the park. (Or, for that matter, John Phillip Sousa doesn’t play Island Park, another common misconception, Person said.)
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Then the island became home to a wild game farm. In the early 1900s, Minnesota’s game bird population was in decline. Game farming has been carried out successfully in other states, but the Big Island farm, which opened in 1915 with 50 ring-necked pheasants, was Minnesota’s first. They were soon joined by native birds including quail, prairie chickens and teals, mallards and pintails.
In 1920, the farm was moved to the Mount, by which time the state’s pheasant population had grown to over 400,000, finally reaching sufficient growth to sustain pheasant seasons.
The property became the Big Island Veterans Camp in 1923, with a large mess hall and a variety of cabins and barracks. Veterans and their families used the camp until 2003, when the City of Orono partnered with the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District to receive a state grant to purchase the property for park use. .
Much of the site has been subject to a conservation easement to preserve its open and natural character.
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After its many identities, its many names, occupants and visitors, and the many ways it has been shaped over the centuries, the island will now return to something closer to what it was long ago.
“It doesn’t matter what happens,” Walsh said, standing on the concrete remnants of the amusement park from long ago, looking out over the island’s docks and the waters of Lake Minnetonka in the early morning sun. fall, “this [property] will never be. It will be developed.”
Katie Reid writes for the motivational column of the Star Tribune. He has previously covered Carver County and western Hennepin County since his debut at the newspaper in 2011 and has covered aging, workplace issues and other topics. Before that, he lived in New Orleans, Louisiana. and was a reporter for the Times-Picayune. The Duluth News-Tribune has been a freelance writer for national and regional magazines for 15 years.
Harold Lewis struggled with addiction for years, but it wasn’t until recently that he started to think recovery could be fun. CBRE announced the sale of a 56.5-acre development site in Mesa, Arizona’s Elliott Road Technology Corridor for $16.6 million to a Phoenix-based real estate company. The Eisenberg company is a real estate investor and developer.
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CBRE’s Barry Gable, Chris Marchilton and Will Mast represented the institutional seller. This is the third location in Arizona since 2018 and the second time in 2021 that the CBRE team has assisted the seller. Steve Larsen with JLL represented the buyer.
“The Eisenberg company was great to work with and execute seamlessly,” Mast said. “Reduced energy consumption and access to an abundance of water, natural gas and fiber, along with a simplified ownership process, are among the reasons the Elliott Road Technology Corridor is such a sought after location for investors, developers and tenants.
New owner Mesa has approved plans to begin immediate development of the five-building, 770,000 square foot Class A industrial property known as MET202. The buildings will range from 77,000 square feet to 221,000 square feet and offer 32 feet of clear height, standard and high dock loading, and additional features.
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