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March 14, 1913: Bassett Creek, the ‘Venice of Minneapolis’

Posted by: Ben Welter under Minnesota History, Minnesota Parks, Disasters Updated: March 15, 2013 - 6:59 PM
 
Twelve-mile-long Bassett Creek once meandered unfettered through marshlands from Medicine Lake in Plymouth to the Mississippi River near Nicollet Island. In the late 1800s, developers began filling in the wetlands near the river, but the homes were prone to flooding, and, thanks to widespread dumping of garbage upstream, the creek became little more than an open sewer. After the spring floods of 1913, described in the Minneapolis Tribune story below, the Legislature approved funding to divert the creek into a storm sewer. By 1923, the final mile and a half of the creek was underground.
 

BASSETT’S CREEK ON ITS ANNUAL TEAR;
DWELLERS IN “VENICE OF MINNEAPOLIS” BUSY


North Siders Move Out:
Bassett’s Creek at Doors

Police Patrol Boat Busy Rescuing Stranded Householders and Goods.

Frozen Sewers Cause Added Difficulty in the Neighborhood Affected.
 
The annual overflow of Bassett’s creek, resulting from spring thaws in the low land in North Minneapolis, caused a call for the police patrol boat yesterday, and several families, isolated in their homes by the sudden rush of water during the night, were rescued from an uncomfortable position.
 
Water Comes Up Fast.
 
The water this year rose more rapidly than in other seasons and surrounded houses within a radius of two blocks. Fears are entertained that the water will undermine foundations, as has happened before. Should the water continue to rise it is probable that the fire department will be called into action to pump the water to points where sewers can carry the flood away. A number of sewers in the vicinity are still frozen and men of the sewer department are encountering difficulty in opening them.
 
The annual overflow of the creek, officials say, would be eliminated if sufficient funds could be procured to convert the now open creek into a closed sewer. A bond issue of $200,000 was asked of the legislature this year, but the senators thought that was excessive so they allowed only $50,000 to conduct the work during the next two years. F.W. Cappelen, city engineer, declares this amount not sufficient to pay for the work needed and there is a probability, he says, that the same conditions will keep up until some future legislature allows a bond issue sufficient to complete the work.
 
Stream Up to Steps.
 
The water reaches the doorsteps of many residences and in some instances families are forced to take refuge on second floors. The police boat works back and forth, taking people and their belongings from their homes and carrying supplies to those who are unwilling to leave their houses.
 
This image, taken from microfilm, accompanied the Tribune flood story. The caption provided no address or names, only this: "Preparing to move."

 

 

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