Minnesota Small Towns January 11, 2023
Folks Used To Flock To This Tiny Minnesota Town To Experience Its Healing Mineral Waters
Mineral springs in Minnesota drew many to the small city of Owatonna at the end of the 19th century – all thanks to a legend about a Native American “princess” that is, quite likely, untrue. The site is now the city’s Mineral Springs Park.
The city of Owatonna purports to be named for a Native “princess,” the daughter of Chief Wabena, who came to the area after hearing about the healing properties of a spring.
The spring is said to have been called "Minnewaucan," or “healing waters,” in the Dakota language - a name ascribed to several other springs in southern Minnesota.
Owatonna is said to have been cured of an illness after drinking from the waters of the spring, which emerges from the bank of what is now Maple Creek at Mineral Springs Park.
Most likely, however, the name “Owatonna” probably refers to the Dakota name for the main river in the area - “Ouitunya” - which was in use for hundreds of years before colonizers arrived.
Capitalizing on (if not having invented) this legend, profiteers turned the area into a resort in the late 19th century, attracting visitors from across the region.
Water from the spring was declared similar to that of the “Vichy Spring” in France, and the Owatonna Mineral Springs Company bottled it and sold it across the country.
The commercial ventures lasted for about a quarter of a century before folding.
Today, some of the infrastructure is still in evidence.
The city started buying up land along the creek in 1877 and has added several parcels since.
In the 1970s, a local donor had a man-made waterfall built in the park.
Today, the park is home to a playground, disc golf course, and hiking trails.
There is also a large monument containing an 1854 essay attributed to Chief Seattle that recognizes the land’s native heritage.
Despite the dubious nature of the legend surrounding the park and its namesake spring, today it is a beautiful place to visit and for reflection as you hike, sit and gaze upon Maple Creek, or enjoy a cool sip of water from the spring.
If you visit the park with critter-loving children, you may also want to stop by the
Reptile and Amphibian Discovery Zoo in nearby Medford.
Have you visited Mineral Springs Park? Are there any other former tourist destinations in Minnesota that are worth a visit today?
OnlyInYourState may earn compensation through affiliate links in this article.
Address: Mineral Springs Park, 1025 Mineral Springs Pkwy NE, Owatonna, MN 55060, USA