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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Despite the heat and stifling humidity, this afternoon I ventured up to White Bear Lake, an established suburban community 10 miles north of St. Paul. It's history began as a Victorian resort town when it was connected via streetcar to Minneapolis and St. Paul. Today it's a vibrant and upscale area with neatly-manicured homes and fancy shops downtown.

The strangest thing about the town in the last several years has been the lake's bizarre and unexplainable water-level drop of more than five feet. Five feet may not seem like much, but you will see in my photos just how low the water has receded, with grass growing on the exposed lakebed and sandbars in the middle of the lake. Even a very, very wet 2011 has not provided a significant water-level rise and it's yet to be determined if there's a solution.

White Bear Lake, Minnesota
Population: 23,797
July 31, 2011















































 

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Nice pictures. The wtaer level drop doesn't look too bad, other than the one ipcture of the muddy area where people are sitting.

I always wondered what this place looked like ever since St. Paul got an expansion hockey team and one of the finalists for the team name was "White Bears", after the lake. Where did they get that name? Was it after polar bears? Was it after albino bears like in National Geographic this month? Did they just make it up?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Nice pictures. The wtaer level drop doesn't look too bad, other than the one ipcture of the muddy area where people are sitting.

I always wondered what this place looked like ever since St. Paul got an expansion hockey team and one of the finalists for the team name was "White Bears", after the lake. Where did they get that name? Was it after polar bears? Was it after albino bears like in National Geographic this month? Did they just make it up?
If you look at the last lake view photo, you can see the dock reaching out to a grassy area and ending far from the edge of the lake. Normally, you wouldn't be able to see grass at all and the stairway would lead directly to the lake.

The name of the town allegedly comes from the Native American name for the lake. According to the legend, a Sioux woman and an Ojibwe warrior fell into forbidden love and would meet on the island in the middle of the lake. One day the warrior came upon the island only to discover a great white bear attacking his lover. Both of them fought the bear but were killed, along with the bear. From then on, it was believed that the spirit of the white bear guarded the island.

I wouldn't doubt it was made up by the town's early settlers, but it's indeed interesting!
 

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I went through here once at night during a thunderstorm and could see that this place appeared to be a bit unique and with these pictures you've reconfirmed my though/s. It definetly has a distinctness.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I went through here once at night during a thunderstorm and could see that this place appeared to be a bit unique and with these pictures you've reconfirmed my though/s. It definitely has a distinctness.
Yeah, it's an interesting little downtown. It looked to me like a lot of the downtown area has been renovated recently with new buildings and streetscaping. It's sort of a weird mish-mash of architecture; some old, some new, some buildings not seeming to fit with the feel of the area at all (not pictured). It might be fun to explore on a day that isn't 90+ degrees with a 75+ degree dew point!
 

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Go Bears!

(Was this the town that the girls were from in the movie "Fargo" - when they said where they were from (White Bear Lake) - and then they said "Go Bears!" (of course with a funny Minnesota accent)?

By the way .... very nice pictures - and a great looking small city.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
(Was this the town that the girls were from in the movie "Fargo" - when they said where they were from (White Bear Lake) - and then they said "Go Bears!" (of course with a funny Minnesota accent)?
Haha, yeah! That's the scene when Marge is talking to the hookers. One's from Chaska and the other is from White Bear Lake. I love that movie.
 

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Go Bears!

(Was this the town that the girls were from in the movie "Fargo" - when they said where they were from (White Bear Lake) - and then they said "Go Bears!" (of course with a funny Minnesota accent)?

By the way .... very nice pictures - and a great looking small city.
before this thread, that 5 second reference to the place in the movie "Fargo" was all i ever knew about it. thanks to these pics, it does look like a pretty nice lakeside town.
 

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The wtaer level drop doesn't look too bad, other than the one ipcture of the muddy area where people are sitting.
Ha ha, did you miss that last picture? :)

@Jennifat - Great pictures. For being such a sprawly metro, the Twin Cities really have some suburban gems with cute downtowns. Thanks for posting.
 

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Really, very nice photos Jennifat!

I was surprised at the shoreline recession when I was there last year for the 4th of July fireworks. Is it really the case that no one knows the reason? Because that would be damn odd, since many Minnesota lakes are at full or even record levels.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Really, very nice photos Jennifat!

I was surprised at the shoreline recession when I was there last year for the 4th of July fireworks. Is it really the case that no one knows the reason? Because that would be damn odd, since many Minnesota lakes are at full or even record levels.
Scientists don't know for sure, but there has been speculation recently as to whether the aquifer is being over-pumped. This seems unlikely to me though, since no other lakes in the area are losing water, and like you said, many are on the verge of topping their banks.

You meant Vikings instead correct? :lol:
I think he means the White Bear Lake Bears—the high school's sport team name. :)
 

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Pretty nice for a suburb.
My mother grew up in White Bear. It's one of the oldest towns in Minnesota -- it became a suburb because the sprawl spead out to meet it. I think White Bear has one of the nicest centers of any suburb in the Twin Cities area (much nicer than Stillwater's which has become so touristy.)

White Bear has an interesting history as well as the whole area around it (including Vadnais Heights, Little Canada, Hugo, Mahtomedi, and Centerville) was originally settled by French Canadians, and the town is full of families named Parenteau, LaBossiere, Charpentier, etc.

White Bear is also referenced for a couple pages in Mark Twain's "Life on the Mississippi" in which he talks about the legend and what a beautiful resort town it is. F. Scott Fitzgerald, who was a member (and then got kicked out of) the White Bear Yacht Club over on the Dellwood side of the lake uses the name "Black Bear Lake" in a couple of his short stories.

The White Bear area was also a summer hideaway for gamgsters such as Dillinger, Creepy Karpis, and the Ma Barker gang in the Mahtomedi side of the lake. Mahtomedi, by the way, means "White Bear Lake" in the Dakota language.

Too bad about the water level, but it's still one of the nicest, most relaxing places in the Twin Cities area.
 
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