St. Anthony Falls 1869

by Peter Gui Clausen, 1913

About the art

This historic painting shows a different St. Anthony Falls scene than most of us are used to. It captures the disaster of 1868, when a tunnel beneath the falls started taking on water and eventually collapsed, wreaking havoc on the area. Peter Gui Clausen’s oil painting conveys the post-collapse scene, a field of rubble with diverted water cascading by. If you look closely, you can see workers laboring on a wooden dam atop the falls, while others in the lower right use tools to break up stone slabs. In the distance are landmarks of the time: the Hennepin Avenue bridge and a railroad bridge with a train mid-transit. Clausen’s painting is an artistic reminder of a historic event that happened just a few blocks away.