University of Minnesota - East Bank Campus: Watershed Management Plan

The campus itself is mostly paved and has
been highly developed. There are no surface water bodies and little vegetation. This was not
always the case however. When the University first opened in the mid 1800s there was a creek,
springs and even a small wetland. As development progressed however the need for more land
increased and these water bodies disappeared, as did the vegetation. Similar situations can be
seen in other areas of this watershed as well. Just to the north of campus once existed a large
wetland that flowed south to the Mississippi through Bridal Veil Creek. These water bodies were
rerouted or filled in to make way for development.

The Southeast Minneapolis Industrial (SEMI) and Bridal Veil Area is a 700-acre tract of land
that is bordered by the East Bank of campus, Prospect Park neighborhood, St. Anthony Park
neighborhood and Marcy Holmes neighborhood. It was originally a vast wetland area that was
characterized by interconnecting spring-fed ponds. The area drained to the Mississippi on a
southwestward path via Bridal Veil Creek, eventually falling over the limestone bluff of the
Mississippi River creating Bridal Veil Falls. The creek has long since been re-routed through a
system of storm sewers and the wetland was filled in with poorly graded sand by the 1880s. All
that remains of the wetland are a couple of small ponds, one spring and a tall grass prairie
remnant. The Falls still exist as an out-pouring of storm water from a large culvert and that is
only visible from the walking trail down by the Mississippi.

This industrial area was developed in the late 1800s as a primary railroad corridor between
Minneapolis and St. Paul. Development consisted of railroad lines and facilities, grain storage
facilities, automotive recycling, residential and commercial business, oil extraction operations,
agriculture chemical blenders and general manufacturing. By the 1900s the area was
characterized by environment degradation including many areas of soil and groundwater

Saint Anthony Park Community Council (SAPCC), Environment Committee, Proposal/Terms of Reference for a Desk Study, Drainage History and Current Status of the Bridal Veil Creek Watershed, 10 July 2004

The original landscape of Bridal Veil Creek was very much affected by the historic industrial
development of Minneapolis and St. Paul. An 1867 map suggests that there were two tributaries
of the creek, draining from the north and east. Since then, the original topography, drainage and
vegetative cover of the BVC watershed have been greatly altered by industrialization and
residential development. Most of the wetlands in the watershed were drained and filled by early
settlers, farmers and later the railroads. The creek and nearby springs were diverted through
ditches and storm sewers. The ponds were gradually filled in, although a few pond fragments still
remain scattered throughout the St. Anthony Park, Lauderdale and Hamline-Midway
neighborhoods. These remnant wetland sites include the Kasota Pond complex, Skonard Spring,
Breck Woods marsh, the Caithlin Avenue wetland, Serita wetland, the “cellphone tower” wetland
fragment, the Burlington Northern pond (aka Newell Pond or Fairview Pond), the man-made
Bridal Veil pond and upstream meandering ditch, and numerous other very small fragments
demonstrating wetland characteristics (hydrated soils and associated plant and aquatic communities).

The great majority of the original wetlands in Minnesota have been drained and filled. Within the
metropolitan area, most natural wetlands have been lost to development. There are few
undeveloped natural wetlands and ponds that are not already surrounded by fully developed
landscapes in the urban core of Minneapolis and St. Paul. MWMO documents note that the
Kasota ponds in the BVC watershed are the last remaining undeveloped natural wetlands in the
middle Mississippi watershed. There is ample evidence that the sites provide valuable wetland
habitat and ecosystem functions that are highly valued by the public.

Bridal Veil Creek has been largely forgotten in public memory, and the Kasota pond fragments
are largely overlooked by planners and policy-makers. However, pressures to develop private
lands containing wetland characteristics in the BVC watershed have continued unabated, as seen
in the incremental filling of the north Kasota pond for the installation of billboard footings and
parking lot expansion; the dumping of construction materials in the west pond; and expansion of
railroad ballast into the north and west ponds.