Shorewood, Minnesota’s history dates back to when Lake Minnetonka was a secret that was only known by the local Native Americans. The lake was named for the Indians words that meant “Big Waters”.
Lake Minnetonka plays a large part in Shorewood’s history. Save for the Native Americans, the lake was a secret to all. The wooded areas and shores surrounding the lake provided plenty of food for the Natives to live off of. Therefore, Lake Minnetonka was critical for their survival, and kept hidden from the settlers. However, settlers eventually discovered the lake in 1822. By 1851, the treaty of Mendota between the Natives and the U.S. Government provided the settlers access to a wide stretch of land, including Lake Minnetonka. Development around the lake thrived in the 1880’s and 90’s. Steamboats created access to the lake as they offered locals cruises across the water. Big Island, a park near the lake that was built in 1902, offered entertainment that people traveled miles for in order to experience. Lake Minnetonka is the 10th largest lake and the most heavily accessed body of water in the state of Minnesota.
In the year of 1853, settlers from the eastern part of the country established the town of Excelsior out of an area that was previously known as Excelsior Township. The area that is now Shorewood was included in this new establishment. As years passed, the towns surrounding Excelsior began to split off and form their own cities like Tonka Bay and Deephaven. Eventually, a group of locals met and formed what is now Shorewood.
Shorewood developed into a residential community. Because it was a part of the Lake Minnetonka area, the city was a major tourist destination during the late 1800’s. Lovely hotels provided places for vacationers to stay, and the railroad and State Highway 7 made for convenient transportation. Shorewood finally was incorporated as a village in 1956 and became an official city in 1974.