Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Roots of Minnetonka - Ginseng

My fascination with the very early settlers around Lake Minnetonka led me to an odd bit of information.
This from the History of Wayzata, but similar scenarios took place in Deephaven and other towns around the lake:

"In 1855, Wayzata had an influx of settlers who built a sawmill, a hotel and
a blacksmith shop.  Most early settlers made their living off the land,
first by clear cutting the trees to grow corn and wheat.  In 1857, this
flourishing economy was nearly terminated by a grasshopper plague. But then
ginseng was discovered in the remaining hard wood forest which had been left
standing, these trees being too great a distance from the lake to float down
stream to the sawmill.  Ginseng's root was in great demand as a aphrodisiac
in the Orient, and after the eastern forests had been depleted, Wayzata
became a collection center for the roots discovered around the lake. Ginseng
saved the town.'

To my surprize the discovery of Ginseng was akin to a mini gold rush for the Lake Minnetonka, farmers became very
wealthy on it and for years it was exported by the ton at very high prices to China.

3 Comments:

Blogger The Truth Hurts said...

How interesting. Coincidentally, I just heard this story about ginseng poaching in Kentucky (I think).

10:01 AM  
Blogger The Truth Hurts said...

oops, I think I forgot to paste the link to the story: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5295409&ft=1&f=1006

10:02 AM  
Blogger Minnetonkafelix said...

Thanks "truth", or should you be called - itruth. ?

11:53 AM  

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