Photos: A rare glimpse inside the Hennepin Island Powerhouse

The Hennepin Island Powerhouse sits tucked away along the Mississippi River
The Hennepin Island Powerhouse sits tucked away along the Mississippi River near St. Anthony Main in Minneapolis on Wednesday. The powerhouse was built in 1908 and houses five hydroelectric turbines and generators.
Evan Frost | MPR News

Across from the humming patios of St. Anthony Main, a tangle of trees and electrical equipment hide a slice of Minneapolis history.

A sturdy brick edifice over 100 years old, the Hennepin Island Powerhouse opened in 1908 to power streetcars. Now it powers the homes of about 14,000 Xcel Energy customers — in exactly the same way, using pretty much the exact same equipment.

The facility offers a direct connection to the Twin Cities metro area's beginnings.

"So much growth came from this area. At the turn of the century, you had over two dozen mills and hydroelectric facilities just capturing all of the power from mother nature," Xcel director of community relations John Marshall told MPR News host Tom Crann. "She drove industry here, the likes of General Mills and others, so I'm really excited that we're still generating power here over a century later."

Members of the public can get a glimpse of that past this weekend, during Doors Open Minneapolis. The powerhouse is one of dozens of buildings that will be open to the public for tours.

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