In the late 1980s only a few people knew about Minnesota’s most majestic waterfall. And it would have remained that way if volunteers with Parks & Trails Council not persisted in a vision of this place becoming a state park.
The land was originally owned by the Grand Portage Band but was lost due to a complex history rooted in the Nelson Act of 1889. It was eventually sold by the government to a married couple who owned it for decades. When the idea of a state park was discussed in the 1980s, they were intrigued. They knew the land was special. Shortly after discussions began, Parks & Trails Council bought the roughly 200 acres from the landowners who donated the remaining 81 of the acres for the initial boundaries of the park.
By this point, Parks & Trails Council had commissioned at least one study of the ecological value of the land and initiated discussions among the state and the Grand Portage Band and other interested parties to support the creation of a state park. After numerous complex negotiations, a novel idea emerged that led to the current arrangement in which most of the land is owned by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and leased to the MN DNR to operate the state park in partnership with the tribe. And now everyone can walk to see Minnesota’s tallest waterfall for themselves and learn about the Native American history of this area.