Hennepin County was named to honor Louis Hennepin (or Father Hennepin, as he has become known), a Franciscan missionary and one of the first European explorers to visit the area. In 1680, Hennepin named the broad St. Anthony waterfalls of the Mississippi River, on the north side of what is now downtown Minneapolis, in honor of his patron saint, St. Anthony of Padua.
Actually, the falls Hennepin saw were about a mile farther downstream, but a slow, upstream erosion of the soft limestone riverbed moved the falls (at a rate of about 4 feet per year) to their present location, extending the beautiful, wooded river gorge that winds down to Fort Snelling and separates south Minneapolis from St. Paul.
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