Lake Nokomis is getting a shade canopy built from a solar array that will plug into the meter at the beach house during the 2014 season. The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board has recently been selected by Xcel Energy to receive funding for seven solar energy projects, of which, the shade structure at Nokomis is one. The project coincides with other efficiency upgrades being done throughout the park system as part of broader sustainably initiatives the MPRB is working on.

Shade Structure

Ebenezer Hodsdon and his family moved to Minnesota from Maine in 1852 hoping to buy land in the Minnesota territory, lured by an enticingly worded ad in the Augusta Maine newspaper “Come to Minnesota Territory. The climate is as warm as California, cattle can graze all winter.”  The twenty something couple and their three young children gave away their warm clothing and wool blankets and booked transport to St. Paul.

They settled first in St. Anthony, eventually buying a farm near Bloomington Avenue and Lake Street, but having been a seafaring man for much of his youth, Ebenezer wanted to live closer to the water. He started a search for a farm with water.  Not long after he started looking he encountered a young man with a fine string of fish in the post office that told him he’d caught them in Lake Amelia, and that a man had a big farm for sale right on the south shore of the lake.

Ebenezer bought the 94 acre farm, and hired a man to help clear it. He raised cranberries, strawberries,  plums and apples, and would catch fish and ducks for sale to downtown restaurants.  His love of the water led him to build the first sailboat on the lake, and after the advent of horsecars he found himself building additional boats for hire to the visitors from the city.

In his later years, after the bicycle began gaining popularity as a mode of transportation, Ebenezer became quite the bicycle enthusiast; building a cinder trail around Lake Amelia to practice his bicycling on one summer in his late seventies.  His practicing paid off, when he won a bicycle race at Lake Harriet against a much younger group of cyclists, including his grandson.

Ebenezer Hodsdon with his bicycle.

Ebenezer Hodsdon with his bicycle.

In 1907, he sold a wide strip of his farmland to the park board to complete the boulevard system around the lake and widen the road.  After he signed the deed, his lawyer said to him, “Congratulations, Mr. Hodsdon. You will be remembered as the last man to own a farm on a city lake.”

This has been just a tiny taste of the life story of Ebenezer Hodsdon, his granddaughter Beatrice Morosco wrote a lovely account of her grandfather and how he came to be one of the pioneers to establish the city of Minneapolis in her book: The Restless Ones, A Family History.


Two of the majestic oak trees adorning the hillside leading down from Woodlawn Boulevard into the park on the far south end of the park have been confirmed to have oak wilt. The damage to the trees observed by the MPRB’s arborists is assumed to have occurred in June’s violent storms. The trees that tested positive for the fungus Ceratocystis fagacearum are being removed in hope of preventing the spread of the disease to neighboring trees.  Trenches are also being dug in the spring to separate the roots of healthy trees from the diseased ones.

The fungus infects oak tree’s water carrying cells, preventing water and nutrients from travelling from the roots to the crown of the tree.  This process is what causes the wilting of the infected tree and eventually its death.  The fungus spreads through root grafts under the soil (in closely spaced trees, such as occur on this hillside and via sap feeding beetles which carry the fungal spores from infected to healthy trees.

The removal and trench line method of containment for oak wilt has been utilized successfully in the park before (near 50th street and the parkway) and we hope for the same success this time.  Replanting will not be done, both because it is not recommended to replant oaks where wilt has been confirmed, and because of the area’s designation as a natural area.  Natural areas are minimally managed by park staff, and are left to be replanted by mother nature and the squirrels when trees die or are removed due to disease.

More information about diseases of oak trees, including oak wilt can be found on the University of Minnesota’s Extension website: http://www1.extension.umn.edu/environment/trees-woodlands/oak-wilt-or-anthracnose/

OAk wilt location

Sandcastle‘s zero waste initative is one that the Community Advisory Committee was excited about and so are we! Let’s all do our part to help Courtney out, she’d much rather be taking your order than sorting your trash.


You’re done eating, now comes the time to clean up. What goes where? There are signs to help, but it’s easiest to remember cans and bottles go in the blue recycling bins; frozen treat wrappers go in the trash; metal baskets, knives, forks and spoons go in the tubs on the wooden racks and EVERYTHING else goes in the organic waste bins.


Frequently Asked Questions

My cup looks like it’s plastic, doesn’t it go in the recycling? Nope! The cups, lids and straws are all made out of corn starch, which allows them to be composted.

I can’t compost meat or anything with oils on it at home, shouldn’t the food scraps and soiled paper go in the trash? Nope! Industrial composting can handle meats, oils and anything else organic in composition. This means that frozen treat sticks are also compostable.


Everything pictured on this tray is compostable.

Are there any grab and go items that have compostable wrappers? Yes! The wrapper on your monkey bar? Biodegradable!

I know the green bins at Sandcastle are for organic waste, is that true of all the green bins in the park? Unfortunately, no. Only the green bins at Sandcastle (in the fenced area) are used to collect organic waste for composting.

Wondering about something else, or you’ve already asked the staff at Sandcastle, and want to share your knowledge? Submit questions and knowledge here:

Looking for an inexpensive activity around Lake Nokomis this summer?  Geocashing is a treasure hunting adventure for the whole family.


Geocashing  uses GPS through your mobile device to help treasure seekers locate “treasure” which range in size from magnet the size of match box to a tennis ball container.  Geocashers that find the particular item sign their name.  Others leave a small trinket or SWAG (Stuff We All Get) signifying they found the item.  These items can be taken and replaced with other SWAG by future players that located the geocache.


The origins of Geocashing go back 150 years to a game called Letterboxing which used clues to direct players to certain landmarks.  In 2000, when GPS greatly improved it’s accuracy, you could now locate an item with a few feet of it’s GPS coordinates.  The original name GPS Stash Hunt or GPSstaching became Geocashing.


Within a block or two around Lake Nokomis, there are 25-30 geocaches waiting to be discovered with varying degrees of difficulty.


There are over 200 Geocaching apps to help you geocache and many are free.  Some of the free apps are “intro” apps and may only show a portion of the Geocaches in your area. Apps with all registered Geocaches range from $0.99-$9.99.   Many apps will provide clues such as the size of the item, the degree of difficulty, the terrain around the item and whether or not the geocache can be found in all seasons.


Much to my surprise after downloading my first Geocaching app, a geocache was hidden a mere 100 feet from our front door.  It took about 15-20 minutes using our iPhone app to find our first geocache.  Since then we’ve found about 10 geocaches around Lake Nokomis.   There are a couple my wife and I haven’t found but make sure we spend about 5-10 minutes each time we walk around the lake.

Once you find the geocache you can sign the logbook if the geocache is large enough or note the log on the application you are using.  In our abbreviated social media world and because the geocache logbooks can be small, players may leave notes such as (TFTC/H – Thanks for the Cache/Hide), BYOP (Bring Your Own Pencil), DNF (Did Not Find) or (TNSL Took Nothing. Signed Logbook.)


Some recommend tips for geocaching around Lake Nokomis is to wear shoes and clothing that match the terrain of the geocache.  Some are located in wooded areas or the edge of the lake. When geocaching with younger players with lesser attention spans you may want to find the geocache first so you can help direct them to a geocache they can find on their own.  As you treasure hunt watch out for “Muggles”, which is based on the term meaning a non-magical person taken from the Harry Potter series and are people who are non-geocachers.


I hope to see you all out geocaching around Lake Nokomis now that winter is gone.  Happy Hunting!!!

After their winter stay in the Southwestern United States, red-wing blackbirds have begun to return Lake Nokomis.  Their unique call greets early morning walkers as they pass the wetland settling ponds along the lagoon. Curious to learn more about these signs of spring?  This page on the All About Birds Site is the place to go: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Red-winged_blackbird/sounds

Away From It All

In early 1942, US soldiers joined Allied forces fighting in Europe. The war in the Pacific was not going well. US forces lost Guam, Hong Kong, Wake, Singapore and the Philippines to Japanese forces. Early in the year, President Roosevelt ordered the internment of Japanese Americans living on the West Coast and the seizure of their property by creating exclusion zones, these zones also effected German and Italian Americans living on the East Coast. The war was just beginning for Americans and it dominated newsreels, news broadcasts and the papers.

Now that we’ve set the scene, I’d like to share this opinion piece from the May 27th 1942 issue of the Minneapolis Star, reprinted with permission from the Star Tribune, no author’s name is provided. Photographs were taken in 2012, by Steffanie Musich.  A copy of the article was found in the Minneapolis Collection at the Central Library in Downtown Minneapolis.



War is helping many of us to discover places of beauty we never knew existed.

Now and again we are taking to our feet and leaving the car in the garage. We find, to our surprise, that we can stroll to spots where the car could not go.

There’s that little arm of Lake Nokomis that is spanned by the Cedar bridge. It had been that–and nothing more. Then the other day we walked around the paths. They led in between the trees: why, this was a jewel-box of a dell!

The gentle lace of the foliage covered us like a giant mantilla. A rustic foot bridge, invisible from the boulevards, snuggled over a channel–perhaps an outlet–that we had never seen before. We might have been miles from a city.

We were away from it all and alone–with nothing to remind us of war save the dive-bombing of millions of starved mosquitoes!


Courtesy of the James K. Hosmer Special Collections Library, Hennepin County Library, Minneapolis Collection