The Minnehaha (popularly known as the “Princess”) Depot, 1971. [image credit]
Months ago when planning my trip to Minneapolis, I came up with a short list of places that I had to visit while there. As you’d likely expect, many of the places were railroad-related. Last week I posted about Lake Street – Midtown station, which was one of the places on the Hiawatha Line I needed to see… or perhaps a more apt description – a station I needed to hear. Minnehaha Park was another place that had made the list. Inside the park is Minnehaha Falls – which is claimed to be the most-photographed attraction in the Twin Cities. Admittedly, I wasn’t the falls that I really wanted to see – I wanted to check out “The Princess.”
The Minnehaha Depot, affectionately known as The Princess, was built in 1875 and thus nicknamed for its delicate gingerbread detailing. It served as a station on the Milwaukee Road for many years, but was ultimately closed in 1963. In 1964 the railroad donated the station to the Minnesota Historical Society. The Minnesota Transportation Museum operates the depot, and it was one of the first buildings that they restored.
These are of course the falls that attracted everyone to Minnehaha Park in the first place. In its heyday, the Princess welcomed many sightseers and picnickers to the park, which was a fifteen-minute ride from downtown Minneapolis.
As for the new station at Minnehaha Park, clearly it is not as awesome as the Princess, but it is a lovely creation. And when I say creation, I mean it. The station is an excellent example of MetroTransit’s endeavor to take transit art to the next level. Numerous artists collaborated on various different aspects of the station. Amongst the platform bricks are various bronze insets of area native species, designed by artist Gregg LeFevre. The tree branch design on the glass panels of the canopy was a creation of artist Joann Verburg. Deborah Mersky’s contribution to the station can be found on the metal fence panels where silhouettes of various plant life have been cut out. If you hunt for it, there is even a box containing a snowglobe mounted on one of the canopy supports – an installation by artist Janet Zweig.
The new station is across the street from the entrance to Minnehaha Park, and not far from both the Princess and the Minnehaha Falls… and if you’re ever in the area, it is certainly worth a look.