Discover:It’s All in a Name

Consider how the city of Eden Prairie, Purgatory Creek and Red Rock Lake received their monikers.

In 1853, Elizabeth Fry Ellet travelled to the bluffs of the Minnesota River, where she viewed the prairie in bloom. She noted it was as beautiful as the Garden of Eden, hence, the name Eden Prairie.

Eden Prairie’s Red Rock Lake was named after the Sioux Chief, Red Rock. His grave was marked by a large stone, near the western lake shore. Each year, the Sioux would visit the sacred rock and paint it red to mourn the chief’s death. The large red rock was stolen around 1890 by a non-Native. As a result, the body of Chief Red Rock was moved to Birch Island Lake.

Purgatory Creek runs through Eden Prairie.  In 1854, Anna Simons Apgar’s family and five other families arrived at a swamp close to the current Purgatory Creek. As the story goes, one man stated the swampy area was “Hell.” Another man responded, “Purgatory.”

Wendy Petersen Biorn
Executive Director, Carver County Historical Society