St. Anthony Falls

The Mississippi River, centerpiece of the second largest watershed in the world, begins as a tiny stream in Itasca State Park, MN, and runs all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. It flows through 10 states and is 2,340 miles long, the second longest river in the U.S. next to the Missouri. The 29 lock and dams on the upper Mississippi River make it possible to ship millions of tons of freight each year. The Mississippi River was essential to the growth of Minneapolis as people settled in the area because of the river. The cities first settlement was near the Mississippi River's only waterfall, St. Anthony Falls. Eventually, the power of the falls was harnessed for lumber and flour milling industries and the growth of settlements along the river gave rise to the city of Minneapolis.

eLibrary Minnesota Resources (for Minnesota residents)

1. Minneapolis. Britannica School. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 9 Feb. 2015. Accessed 21 Jul. 2016.

2. St. Anthony Falls. Image. Britannica School, Encyclopædia Britannica, 8 Apr. 2019. Accessed 17 Jul. 2019.

3. "Video: Behind the Scenes: U of Minn.'s St. Anthony Falls Lab." Local Broadcast Video Content 16 Sept. 2014. Student Resources in Context. Web. 21 July 2016.

Additional Resources for Research


Teaching Guide: St. Anthony Falls

Primary Source Analysis

For each source, ask students to indicate:

  • the author's point of view
  • the author's purpose
  • historical context
  • audience

For inquiry-based learning, ask students to:

  • explain how a source tells its story and/or makes its argument
  • explain the relationships between sources
  • compare and contrast sources in terms of point of view and method
  • support conclusions and interpretations with evidence
  • identify questions for further investigation

Additional Tools

This teaching guide helps instructors use a specific primary source set, St. Anthony Falls , in the classroom. It offers discussion questions, classroom activities, and primary source analysis tools. It is intended to spark pedagogical creativity by giving a sample approach to the material. Please feel free to share, reuse, and adapt the resources in this guide for your teaching purposes.

Discussion Questions

1. How did Minneapolis businesses near the river use St. Anthony Falls to their advantage beginning in the 1850s?

2. What are some ways you are directly related to the Mississippi River and St. Anthony Falls?

3. What is the greatest industry of Minneapolis, and why?