Lake Phalen waterfall gets new life

Dry for decades, the 15-foot tall stone waterfall at the northwest corner of Lake Phalen has been restored. The dedication of water cascading again was held during the WaterFest events May 31. (Linda Baumeister/Review)

St. Paul Park and Recreation’s landscape architect Bryan Murphy, second from left, would later speak to a crowd at the dedication of the restored stone waterfall at Lake Phalen. Water is drawn from Lake Phalen and recirculated. (Linda Baumeister/Review)

Lake Phalen’s old, dormant waterfall has been brought back to life.

The waterfall, which sits on the west side of Lake Phalen, was originally built in the 1950s when the lake levels were receding -- the manmade waterfall drew from a nearby well and was a makeshift way of replenishing the water supply.

The old waterfall ran for a few years, after which it was abandoned.

But now, half a century later, it has a second life.

Brian Murphy from St. Paul Parks and Recreation said there’s long been community desire for it to be brought back.

But it took until recent years to get it into gear. The rehab was added to the city’s master plan in 2009 and received a Minnesota Legacy Grant in the range of $200,000 to bring it back to life.

The updated attraction pumps water out of Lake Phalen, which then cascades down the falls and flows right back into the lake.

The water flows under the pedestrian paths already in place, and as people walk by, they’ll be able to see the water going underneath the path through ornamental grates.

In addition to the visual appeal, the falls also add a small bonus of adding aeration to the lake.

Construction done by contractors included adding ornamental grates and a pump system for the water, as well as touching up the falls’ stone masonry.

The falls will run seasonally from Memorial Day to Labor Day. In addition, it’s on a timer, and operates from about 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

- Patrick Larkin


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