Glenwood Toboggan Slide: 1887

It’s an old, wrinkled photo clipped from an unidentified newspaper, but it’s also the oldest photo I’ve seen of a toboggan slide in Minneapolis.

A privately run toboggan slide on "Glenwood" hill in 1887, years before the park board acquired land in the area.

The newspaper caption calls it the “North Star” chute and puts the date at 1887. That was two years before the first land (64 acres) was acquired for what was then Saratoga Park. The park was renamed Glenwood Park in 1890 and was renamed for Theodore Wirth in 1938. The majority of the land for the park we know today was acquired in 1909. I suspect that this hill was a part of that acquisition. Although I’m not certain, I think this slide was located near where the ski jumps were later built.

At different times the park board operated toboggan slides at Lake Harriet, Lake Calhoun, Glenwood (Wirth) Park, Columbia Park and Minnehaha Park. I don’t believe any of them were operated after the 1940s, but as always its difficult to discern from park board records when such services or programs were stopped.

The only toboggan slide I remember from growing up in the Twin Cities was the long slide erected on the approach to the State Capitol in St. Paul. I remember it being operated as a part of the St. Paul Winter Carnival. It was one of the highlights of winter life as a boy in St. Paul.

David C. Smith  minneapolisparkhistory[at]q.com

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2 comments so far

  1. BC on

    Given the location of the buildings in the background (and the large industrial looking building being the closest of them) I would guess that it is looking east either from the hill across Bassett Creek at the Glenwood Inglewood water site

    https://www.google.com/maps/@44.9790159,-93.3144389,271m/data=!3m1!1e3

    or east from the hill overlooking Wirth lake just a few blocks west

    https://www.google.com/maps/@44.9794788,-93.3194224,271m/data=!3m1!1e3

    • David C. Smith on

      Great suggestions and thanks for the links, BC. I’ll take a closer look. Hope others will too. Maybe some of our Bryn Mawr historians have an opinion.


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