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Wayzata, Minnesota

Wayzata is a city in Hennepin County, Minnesota, located west of Minneapolis on the shores of Lake Minnetonka. The name Wayzata is derived from the Sioux phrase meaning “North Shore.” There are approximately 4,000 residents of Wayzata. Its climate is humid continental, with hot summers, cold winters, and moderate autumns and springs.

Early history

The area Wayzata occupies was originally inhabited by a subtribe of the Dakota native American tribe as early as the 1700s. Its location on Lake Minnetonka provided a lush environment of foliage and wildlife, and the lake itself served as a protective barrier from nearby tribes. In 1852, two settler families came to the area after the land became available for sale by the Louisiana Purchase. Obviously, tensions rose between the settlers and the natives, coming to a climax in the Dakota War of 1862, after which the Dakotas were forced to flee the area.

Wayzata was officially named and established in 1854 by the patriarch of one of the original two settler families, Oscar E. Garrison. The following year saw an influx of settlers who built a sawmill, hotel and blacksmith shop. Most of them made their living in agriculture by clear-cutting the trees to grow corn and wheat. When ginseng was discovered in the hardwood forests near Wayzata, the town became a distribution center for the high in demand root collected around the lake. In 1857, however, Wayzata’s growing economy was nearly terminated by a locust plague.

The Civil War and Great Railroad

The town continued to grow at a fast pace with the extension of the Saint Paul & Pacific Railroad line into the city. It was also becoming a popular tourist destination for southerners following the Civil War, with 125 miles of lakeshore land quickly popping up with hotels. Full-time residents of Wayzata resented the raucousness of the tourist culture and began a feud with the railroad company, trying to force the tracks away from the shore. In retaliation, the railroad company moved the tracks one mile outside of town, essentially erasing Wayzata from the map. This hurt the town greatly, stalling growth for the 15 years until their reconciliation, when the tracks were moved back into city limits.

Mid-era Wayzata

This attitude toward tourists halted the tourism industry and Wayzata became a town of residents once again by the 1890s. Many of the historic monuments and “cottages” of Wayzata were built around this time around the lake, and the wealthier residents established a competitive boat racing culture that lasted until the 1920s.

In the 1930s and through World War II, paved streets, streetlights, and businesses populated the town, turning it from a summer respite into a fully-functioning city. Dairy farming became a lucrative trade, and the city doubled in size in 1950, requiring a land annexation from neighboring towns.

Wayzata today

Today, Wayzata is a charming and attractive city with beautiful parks and trails that highlight the magnificent lake. The Dakota Rail Trail is a 44-mile-long trail system that runs along Lake Minnetonka and out of Wayzata into neighboring cities.

Wayzata has been featured in pop culture in surprising ways. The hit 90s show Beverly Hills: 90210 featured twin brother and sister who had supposedly moved to California from Wayzata. The city was also mentioned in the cult classic film Fargo as the site for the crooks’ impending parking lot purchase. The 1999 film Drop Dead Gorgeous was filmed in Wayzata.

Notable figures from Wayzata include American blues singer and guitarist Kent DuChaine and PGA Tour golfer Tim Herron.

Merrigan, Brandt, Ostenso & Cambre, P.A.

With a combined 60 years of experience, Merrigan, Brandt, Ostenso & Cambre, P.A. is a general practice law firm serving Wayzata residents. We are regarded for delivering results-oriented, innovative, and cost-effective legal solutions in the areas of business law, family law, real estate and estate planning. We are a small group of attorneys whose goal is to ensure the complete satisfaction of every client while offering knowledgeable and friendly service.