Lake Calhoun
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Lake Calhoun
Lake Calhoun
Bdé Makhá Ská  (Dakota)[1]
Bde Maka Ska
Boats on the lake in 2017
Location Minneapolis, Minnesota
Coordinates 44°56?30?N 93°18?45?W / 44.94167°N 93.31250°W / 44.94167; -93.31250Coordinates: 44°56?30?N 93°18?45?W / 44.94167°N 93.31250°W / 44.94167; -93.31250
Basin countries United States
Surface area 401 acres (1.62 km2)
Average depth 82 ft (25 m)
Max. depth 87 ft (27 m)

Lake Calhoun, also known as Bde Maka Ska , is the largest lake in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and part of the city's Chain of Lakes. Surrounded by city park land and circled by bike and walking trails, it is popular for many outdoor activities. The lake has an area of 401 acres (1.62 km2) and a maximum depth of 87 feet (27 m).

Lake and surrounding area

Lake Calhoun (center) from the air.

Lake Calhoun is part of the Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway, connecting with Lake of the Isles on the northeast, Cedar Lake on the northwest, and Lake Harriet on the south. The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board trail system has a 3.4-mile (5.5 km) trail around Lake Calhoun for bicyclists and skaters and a 3.2-mile (5.1 km) trail around Lake Calhoun for pedestrians. Both of these trails connect to the larger trail system via connections to Lake of the Isles and Lake Harriet. In addition, the Midtown Greenway Trail is located just north of the lake and Lake Street. The lake itself is popular for canoeing, kayaking, and windsurfing, and it has three swimming beaches.

Bathers at Lake Calhoun, about 1917.

The three beaches are North Beach on the north side of the lake, 32nd Beach on the east, and Thomas Beach on the south. There is Lake Calhoun Park and surrounding park land offers parking, picnicking, volleyball, and athletic fields. It is also home of sailing, hosting the Calhoun Yacht Club, the Minneapolis Sailing Center, as well as local high school teams and the University of St Thomas Sailing Team.

A plaque on the east side of the lake commemorates the mission station built by Samuel and Gideon Pond where they created the first alphabet for the Dakota language[2] at Cloudman's Village.[3] On the west side is The Bakken, an old mansion with medicinal gardens and a library and museum devoted to medical electricity and the history of electromagnetism.[4]


"Lake Mendoza" (as it was sometimes called) in 1908

The Dakota originally called the lake Mde Maka Ska (modern spelling Bdé Makhá Ská,[1] pronunciation: Be-DAY Mah-KAH-Ska)[5] meaning Lake White Earth,[6] or Lake White Bank,[7] a name that probably was given by the Ioway who inhabited the area until the 16th century. Another Dakota name for the lake may have been Mde Med'oza, which was the name initially adopted by settlers, either as Lake Medoza or in translation as Loon Lake.[8] The Dakota also described it as Heyate Mde, meaning "Lake Set Back (from the River)".[9]

The United States Secretary of War, John C. Calhoun, sent the Army to survey the area that would surround Fort Snelling in 1817. Calhoun had also authorized the construction of Fort Snelling, one of the earliest American settlements in the state. The surveyors renamed the water body "Lake Calhoun" in his honor.[10] The Fort Snelling Military Reservation survey map created by Lt. James L. Thompson in 1839 clearly shows the lake as bearing the name "Calhoun".[11]

The downtown Minneapolis skyline and refectory building reflected in the lake in 2017

Calhoun's legacy as a pro-slavery politician led critics to question whether he was the best person to be honored. In 2011 the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board visited the issue. Their legal counsel concluded that the board could not legally change the name, as state law gives that power to the Commissioner of Natural Resources, and then only in the first 40 years after the name was designated. Following the Charleston church shooting in June 2015, a fresh drive to change the name started via an online petition. The Park Board indicated it would look into whether they could change the lake's name through state action,[12][13] and in fall 2015 added the Dakota name to signage below the official name.[1] On March 22, 2016, an advisory group decided via majority vote to urge the Minnesota Park and Recreation Board to restore the lake's former name.[14] In 2017, the Minneapolis Park Board voted unanimously to change the lake's name back to that of Bde Maka Ska[15] the Hennepin County commissioners approved it more narrowly,[16] and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources approved the name change on January 18, 2018.[17] Approval by the Minnesota DNR means that the name change is official for the state of Minnesota. DNR Comissioner Tom Landwehr said his department has submitted materials to the U.S. Board on Geographic Names to get the name changed at the federal level. While he did receive indication from the board that the name change "complies with its protocols," Lake Calhoun remains the official name at the federal level.[18]

There was also a proposal to rename the lake for Senator Paul Wellstone, who is buried in nearby Lakewood Cemetery.[19]


Lake Calhoun covered with ice and snow in December

Lake Calhoun contains black crappie, bluegill, bowfin, common carp, hybrid sunfish, largemouth bass, northern pike, pumpkinseed, tiger muskellunge, walleye, white sucker, and yellow perch. Some fish consumption guideline restrictions have been placed on the lake's bluegill, crappie, largemouth bass, northern pike, walleye, and white sucker due to mercury and/or PFOS contamination.[20]

In 1991, the then-Minnesota state record tiger muskellunge at 33 pounds 8 ounces was caught in the lake.[21] The Minneapolis Park and Recreation website lists the lake as one of the best in the city for ice fishing walleye, northern pike, and crappies in winter.[22]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Greene, Britta (December 4, 2015). "How to say Lake Calhoun's Dakota name: 'Bde Maka Ska'". MPR News. Minnesota Public Radio. Retrieved 2015. The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board added "Bde Maka Ska" to signs around Lake Calhoun 
  2. ^ "History of the Dakota Mission". Pond Dakota Historical Society. 2017. 
  3. ^ Beane, Katherine (2012). "Bde Maka Ska / Lake Calhoun, Minneapolis". In Westerman, Gwen; White, Bruce. Mni Sota Makoce: The Land of the Dakota. Saint Paul, MN: Minnesota Historical Society Press. ISBN 978-0-87351-869-7. 
  4. ^ Sanders, Michael (2017). "ABOUT THE BAKKEN". The Bakken Museum. 
  5. ^ Eldred, Sheila (June 23, 2016). "Renaming Lake Calhoun: Native American activist Syd Beane explains the Minneapolis lake's name change". Minnesota Monthly. You learn how to pronounce it: Be-DAY Mah-KAH-Ska. 
  6. ^ Cairn, Rich and Susan (2003). "History of Minnehaha Creek Watershed" (PDF). p. 19. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-07-30. Retrieved . 
  7. ^ "Lake Maka Ska has a nice historical ring to it". Star Tribune. Minneapolis. October 20, 2017. 
  8. ^ Brandt, Steve (October 12, 2015). "Dakota name for Calhoun probably originated with predecessor tribe". Star Tribune. 
  9. ^ Myrbo, Amy; Murphy, Marylee; Stanley, Valerie (2011). "The Minneapolis Chain of Lakes by bicycle: Glacial history, human modifications, and paleolimnology of an urban natural environment". GSA Field Guides. 24: 428. doi:10.1130/2011.0024(20). ISBN 978-0-8137-0024-3. Lake Calhoun, first known by Native Americans as Lake Medoza ("Lake of the Loons"), Mde Maka Ska ("Lake of the White Earth"), or Heyate Mde ("Lake Set Back from the River")... 
  10. ^ Keating, William H. (1824). "Narrative of an expedition to the source of St. Peter's river, Lake Winnepeek, Lake of the Woods, &c". Internet Archive. p. 303. 
  11. ^ Johnson, Frederick L. (2009). Richfield: Minnesota's Oldest Suburb. Richfield, Minnesota: Richfield Historical Society Press. p. 2. 
  12. ^ Brandt, Steve (June 23, 2015). "Lake Calhoun name change gets another look in Minneapolis". Star Tribune. 
  13. ^ Brandt, Steve (June 24, 2015). "Minneapolis Park Board gives fresh look at renaming Lake Calhoun after South Carolina shootings". Star Tribune. 
  14. ^ Steve Brandt (March 24, 2016). "Lakes panel urges restoring Bde Maka Ska name for Lake Calhoun". StarTribune. 
  15. ^ Faiza Mahamud (May 3, 2017). "Minneapolis Park Board votes to change Lake Calhoun name to Bde Maka Ska". StarTribune. 
  16. ^ Nate Gotlieb (November 22, 2017). "Bde Maka Ska recommended by County Board". Southwest Journal. Minnesota Premier Publications. The Hennepin County Board on Nov. 21 voted to recommend changing the name of Lake Calhoun to Bde Maka Ska, which means "Lake White Earth" in Dakota. 
  17. ^ MN DNR (January 18, 2018). "Re: The Proposed Renaming of Lake Calhoun, Minnesota Public Water No. 27-31 in Hennepin County, Minnesota to Bde Maka Ska" (PDF). Names of Geographic Features Order. 
  18. ^ MN DNR (January 18, 2018). "State of Minnesota approves Lake Calhoun name change to Bde Maka Ska". News Release. Retrieved 2018. 
  19. ^ Thomas, Dylan (October 11, 2017). "New petition seeks to rename Lake Calhoun for Wellstone". Southwest Journal. 
  20. ^ "Lake information report: Minnesota DNR". MN DNR. MN DNR. 2005-07-25. 
  21. ^ Ron Hustvedt Jr. "Taking On The Metro's Tiger Muskies". Primedia Enthusiast Magazine. Archived from the original on 2005-10-26. 
  22. ^ "Ice Fishing". Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. 2017. 

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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