Discovery of the Falls of St. Anthony (Minneapolis)

Father Hennepin at the Falls of St. Anthony in 1680 (painted c. 1903 by J. N. Marchand)

It is relatively unknown that in 1680, Father Louis Hennepin, a priest from Belgium, was the first European to walk on the ground of what would become Minneapolis (northwest of Frontenac), one of America’s largest cities, and to see the only natural falls on the Upper Mississippi which he named Falls of St. Anthony in honor of his patron saint St. Anthony of Padua. With the construction of a series of locks and dams in the years 1950-1960 the falls have since faded away, but the site is still beautiful. In 1971, the area surrounding the falls was listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places for its rich history. Moreover, a bronze statue of Father Hennepin was erected and a municipal park was named after him. Every year in June, Father Hennepin Festival is held as a reminder of his journey.

Upon his return to Europe (late 1681), Louis Hennepin wrote Description of (Colonial) Louisiana. His book was published in Paris, France, in January 1683. His stories about the New World were translated into many foreign languages. As a result, he created a huge enthusiastic interest in discovering America.