Father Louis Hennepin, a Franciscan priest, accompanied Robert Cavelier de La Salle in exploring French-claimed territory in the New World, including travels to what was to become the state of Minnesota. While journeying up the Mississippi River in 1680, Hennepin’s party met a Dakota war party and accompanied them to their villages on Mille Lacs Lake by overland trails, leaving the river just a few miles south of this location.
In July of that same year, however, Hennepin traveling south on the Mississippi River came upon the falls known to the Dakota as “Owahmenah” (falling water). He named the falls after his patron saint Anthony of Padua, or St. Anthony. The park is the traditional location of an ancient portage route around the St. Anthony Falls, so Hennepin may have first observed the waterfall from this park that now bears his name.
The park consists of 5.5 acres and sits on a wooded bluff overlooking the Mississippi River. It is adjacent to Pillsbury Park and connected to the many parks on both sides of the river through an extensive trail system.