Minnehaha Depot was built in 1875 to replace a smaller station on the first railroad line on the west bank of the Mississippi River, connecting Minneapolis with Chicago. In the Depot’s early years, Minneapolis residents flocked to Minnehaha Park by train to enjoy summer weekends. The station supported passenger service until 1920 and continued to operate as a freight station until 1963. Minnehaha Depot is located along modern day Highway 55 in South Minneapolis’ Minnehaha Park.
About the railroad
The Minnehaha station, along with those at South Minneapolis Junction and Fort Snelling, was one of three stops on the first railroad line built out of Minneapolis. Completed to Mendota in 1865, the tracks were extended the following year to St. Paul effectively creating the first Minneapolis to Chicago route.
The line was built by the Minnesota Central Railway Company, a forerunner of the Milwaukee Road. The depot was on the heavily traveled line that first connected Minneapolis with Chicago and the East in 1866 and served as a main line of the Milwaukee Road until a direct route between Minneapolis and St. Paul was constructed in 1880.
The depot was closed in 1963 and presented by the Milwaukee Road to the Minnesota Historical Society. The Minnesota Transportation Museum restored the building to its 1890s appearance and maintains and interprets it as a historic site.
About the depot
The Minnehaha Depot was designed by company engineers in a style called Carpenter-Gothic. It features elaborate gingerbread ornamentation made possible by the recently invented jigsaw and precut or dimension lumber. The delicate decoration includes cockscomb detailing along the roofline, ornamental eave triangles, fans and spires. The look of the depot led railroad men at the time to call it the "Princess."