Remembering the past as we move into the future
Roswell Russell envisioned a resort community on the shores of Lake Waconia (then named Clearwater Lake) when he purchased and plotted the land in 1857. With the coming of the railroad in 1887, Russell's dream of a resort community took hold, Waconia and Coney Island of the West were visited by many from Minneapolis, St. Paul, and other states every summer.
The first hotel, the Sherman House, was built in 1882 followed by the North Star Hotel and the Lake House in Waconia. Reinhold Zeglin's popular hotel and cabins on Coney Island of the West were filled every summer with hundreds of visitors and groups who came for the day and some who stayed for the summer. Zeglin sold the resort in 1940 to Frank "Shorty" Dvorak and his wife Gertrude. Summer visitors enjoyed their hospitality until 1969 when they retired.
One of Waconia's most popular residents was Emile Amblad. He was an importer of French wines and he and his wife spent their summers on the island. He built three houses on the western part of the island, complete with landscaping and a beautiful park. He was flamboyant, generous, and a highly regarded resident in the community.
Waconia was not only a highly popular resort community, but also a business hub for surrounding communities with a lumberyard, flour mill, soft drink factory, sorghum mill, creamery, cigar factory, and brewery. Waconia's strong medical community, even in the early years, was noted for the Diessners, who were educated to be medical doctor, dentist, and druggist. Dr. Mork was a trained optician for Waconia and surrounding communities. The first 30-bed hospital, Nagel Hospital, was built in 1936 on Elm Street.
Just as Waconia was known as a hospitable place to visit in years past, its eating and drinking establishments, as well as its marinas, stores, churches, and townspeople welcome you to visit and enjoy our town.
Waconia Heritage Association
The Waconia Heritage Association is a volunteer group established in 1983. We have published two books. The first published in 1986, (Paradise of the Northwest. Volume 1, Waconia, The Lake and Its Island) is a great resource to read of the history and stories of the lake and Coney Island of the West. This will be referred to as the "Blue Book" in the website. The second volume, (Waconia, the Town and Its People), is filled with stories, photos, and history of Waconia. This will be referred to as the "Red Book" in the website. The books are available for purchase at the Carver County Historical Society, City Hall Office, and Mackenthun's Country Market as well as on Ebay.
The Waconia Heritage Association Office is located in City Hall at 213 S. Vine St., Waconia, MN 55387.
Are you passionate about what we're doing? Let us know! We are always looking for volunteers to help us make our vision a reality. We'll help you find a way to volunteer that best suits you. We're excited to have you join the team!
Whether you help through monetary donations, volunteering your time, or spreading our mission through word-of-mouth, thank you. We couldn't accomplish our goals without the help of supporters like you.