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Excelsior, Minnesota is situated on Lake Minnetonka in Hennepin County, about twelve miles west of South Minneapolis. Founded in 1853, Excelsior was the first community on Lake Minnetonka. The town was founded by George Bertram after the federal government refused the request of Dakota tribal leaders to reserve the lake area to them. Forming the Excelsior Pioneer Association, Bertram began to build homes and businesses. Excelsior Township was organized in 1858, and originally included areas that are now Excelsior, Greenwood, Shorewood, Tonka Bay, and parts of Deephaven and Orono. The city of Excelsior was incorporated in 1877, and early on became an international tourist destination with luxury hotels, excursion steamboats, and summer homes and cottages, although many residents farmed, growing berries, apples, and other fruits for sale to markets across the country, and there was also a small lumber industry. The Excelsior Amusement Park operated from 1925 to 1974, attracting hundreds of thousands of people to the city each summer, and included musical acts such as Tommy Dorsey, Lawrence Welk, the Beach Boys, and the Rolling Stones. The Old Log Theater opened in 1940, and continues in operation.


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