through the Years: Historical Overview
Minnesota's north woods scenery and its fabled 10,000 lakes have long beckoned
visitors eager to enjoy nature's beauty. In the 1850s, even before most of Minnesota
was open for development, easterners took the Grand Tour by steamboat up the
Mississippi River to delight in the region's healthful climate.
With Euro-American settlement came entrepreneurs who opened hotels and built
lodges to serve the growing number of travelers. Minnesota's lakes soon began
attracting streams of summer vacationers. Some lakes, such as Minnetonka and
White Bear Lake in the Twin Cities area, were ringed with colonies of summerhouses
that eventually became year-round residences. Other lakes around the state were
dominated by tourist cabins, motels and resorts.
Minnesota's growing state park system also provided a respite for travelers.
In the Depression years of the 1930s, work groups such as the Civilian Conservation
Corps (CCC) and Works Progress Administration (WPA) constructed park facilities
and landscaped the grounds. The distinctive Rustic Style buildings erected by
the workers can be found in 22 state parks.
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