Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

From Owatonna: The legend of a princess & healing waters November 5, 2020

Note: The following post has been in my “drafts” since May. Time to publish this, as it appropriately themes to healing.

 

The statue of Princess Owatonna in Mineral Springs Park dates to the early 1930s.

 

LEGEND GOES THAT PRINCESS OWATONNA experienced restored health by drinking the curing waters of Minnewauan.

 

Princess Owatonna and her story, a park focal point.

 

The story of the princess, and a statue of her, center Mineral Springs Park in Owatonna, a place defined by water. Springs. Maple Creek. And a man-made waterfall.

 

Randy climbs a steep stairway to the top of a wooded hillside.

 

When we visited in mid May, apple blossoms were budding and blooming.

 

It was such a lovely May day to be out and about.

 

On a Friday afternoon in May, Randy and I stopped by the park to take in the art, the legend, the beauty of the water and apple blossoms, and simply nature.

 

Maple Creek, spanned by several bridges in the park.

 

Water streams from a pipe along the river bank.

 

Gracing Mineral Springs Park, a beautiful man-made waterfall constructed in the early 1970s.

 

During a previous visit, I drank cold spring water from a fountain. But on this day, no water bubbled up. Instead, water streamed from a nearby pipe, flowed in the creek and cascaded down the waterfall.

 

More history on a monument in Mineral Springs Park.

 

The park on this weather-perfect afternoon proved busy. But not too busy that we felt uncomfortable or crowed. Everyone respected everyone and social-distanced.

 

Another view of Maple Creek, which winds through Mineral Springs Park.

 

In 1875, Owatonna Mineral Springs Company formed with the spring water served for many years on railroad dining cars, according to the City of Owatonna website. One can only imagine the refreshing taste of that water sourced from this place in southern Minnesota, this place where Princess Owatonna, daughter of Chief Wabena, once found healing. So the legend goes…

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BONUS FINDS:

 

 

 

 

While walking around Mineral Springs Park, we found these messages on stones and a shell left in the park.

© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Delighting in Owatonna’s Mineral Springs Park on a Sunday afternoon April 19, 2016

A sign explains the legend of Princess Owatonna, represented in an early 1930s statue in Mineral Springs Park.

A sign explains the legend of Princess Owatonna, represented in an early 1930s statue in Mineral Springs Park. The statue was restored in 1986, but appears in need of repair work again.

I DRANK A LONG, deep drink of glacier cold spring water bubbling from a fountain in Owatonna’s Mineral Springs Park. Water that tasted of iron, of the earth. Water that, as legend goes, holds healing power. Princess Owatonna, the daughter of Chief Wabena, supposedly drank daily of the springs along Maple Creek, regaining her health.

I drank from this fountain of spring water.

I drank from this fountain of spring water. Owatonna Mineral Springs Company spring water was served on railroad dining cars back in the day.

Whether legend or truth, it mattered not to me. I drank more, until my husband pointed out rust running across the park roadway from the spilling water fountains. (I should have noticed the rust in the fountain bowls.)

Maple Creek winds through the park. Several pedestrian bridges cross the waterway.

Maple Creek winds through the park. Several pedestrian bridges cross the waterway.

This 48-acre park is a lovely place, nestled at the base of wooded hills, the creek flowing through.

Maple Creek runs surprisingly clear.

Maple Creek runs surprisingly clear.

I watched this drake for a long time swimming in the creek.

I watched this drake for a long time swimming in the creek.

I was especially impressed by the clarity of the water, so clear I could see the webbed feet of a drake paddling. So clear I could see the creek bottom. So clear I could see a minnow swimming.

The Princess Owatonna statue up close.

The Princess Owatonna statue up close.

Sunday was the perfect day to visit this park with the 1930s statue of the Indian Princess after whom this southern Minnesota community is named. So legend claims.

On the wooded hillside, these wildflowers bloomed.

On the wooded hillside, these wildflowers bloomed.

Sun baked heat into the afternoon at an unseasonably warm 70-plus degrees. Wildflowers bloomed. Hints of buds greened trees. A butterfly darted.

Fishing in Maple Creek, although there were not fish to be seen except minnows.

Fishing in Maple Creek, although there were not fish to be seen except minnows.

Kids raced around the playground, energized. Guys tossed horseshoes. A boy fished with his dad. Walkers walked dogs. The signature scent of roasting hot dogs drifted from the picnic shelter grill.

People smiled. How could you not? Sunday marked a glorious summer-like spring day in Minnesota. As beautiful as they come in April.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling