If you can appreciate living in a city with rich history, then Wayzata is the perfect place. The city received inspiration for its name from the Native American word Waziyata, which had a very mystical and religious value to the Sioux tribes that previously inhabited the area. “Waziya” was the name of their god of the North. He was said to have blown the cold winds from his mouth. With the suffix “ta” added, the name translated to “North Shore”.
Even though Lake Minnetonka was discovered in the early 1820’s, the first pioneers did not settle in the area of Wayzata until the early 1850’s. Eventually, a small town was established and several buildings were set up. Among them were a general store, a sawmill, a post office, and a log schoolhouse.
The town truly saw development and growth by 1867, when James J. Hill brought his railroad system to the town. The railroad allowed for easier transportation of goods to the larger cities in Minnesota, encouraging the local businesses to flourish. In addition to trade, the railroad also transported passengers from the big cities to the Wayzata area. Vacationers were so impressed with the location, that many began to move to the town, adding to its development. The railroad became an important piece of the town’s history and the city created their own “James J. Hill Day”, a tradition that has lasted for several decades. By the 1890’s the city was able to truly become a popular vacationing area when it established several resorts. However, a financial depression caused the tourists to leave the area, transforming the city into a more residential one.
By World War II, Wayzata became a city with local jobs that provided all of the residents’ needs. During the War, the city built and provided wooden 8-man boats. These were used by the American soldiers to cross and transport troops through Europe’s rivers. In the 1950s, Wayzata doubled its population when it expanded its land into the neighboring cities of Minnetonka, Plymouth, and Orono. Shopping centers and local business continued to thrive because of the increasing needs of the residents. Today, several homes and shops have replaced the resorts, and Wayzata continues to serve as a gateway to the beautiful and iconic Lake Minnetonka.