Not far from our cabin in northern Minnesota lies lovely Itasca State Park. It was established in 1891 and is Minnesota’s oldest state park. That is one of the two reasons for its claim to fame; the other is that the modest site where this small stream flows out of Lake Itasca has been officially recognized as the headwaters of the Mississippi River, which from here flows 2,552 miles to the Gulf of Mexico. Its recognition as such is attributed to explorer Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, thanks to Anishinabe (also called Ojibwe in Canada and Chippewa in the US) guide Ozawindib, who led Schoolcraft to the site in 1832. With the help of an educated missionary companion, Schoolcraft created the name Itasca from the Latin words for “truth” (veritas) and “head,” (caput) by linking the last two syllables in the first word and the first syllable in the second.
In the late 1800s, Jacob V. Brower, historian, anthropologist and land surveyor, came to the park region to settle the dispute of the actual location of the Mississippi Headwaters. Brower saw this region being quickly transformed by logging, and was determined to protect some of the pine forests for future generations. It was Brower’s tireless efforts to save the remaining pine forest surrounding Lake Itasca that led the state legislature to establish Itasca as a Minnesota State Park on April 20, 1891, by a margin of only one vote. Through his conservation work and the continuing efforts of others throughout the decades, the splendor of Itasca had been maintained. [Thanks to Minnesota’s DNR website for the historical information.]
Any trip to northern Minnesota is greatly enriched by a visit to this inspiring place. (I made this photo a month ago, on the last day of September; please click on it for a higher-resolution image.)