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Answer Man: Why is it called Silver Lake?

December 26, 2018

Editor’s note: This Classic Answer Man was first published in October 2008

Answer Man, here’s a dumb question: Was Silver Lake named for the creek that flows into the Zumbro River there, even though it’s a minor tributary, and were other names considered? — R.D.

Dumb questions are almost always good questions, as this one is.

I’ve done a fair amount of dredging to find the answer, short of reading all the city council minutes from the 1920s and ’30s. Let’s just assume it was named for the creek, which flows into the east side of the lake.

Some quick history: The Lake Zumbro dam in Oronoco was built first, in the late 1910s, to harness the power of the mighty South Fork Zumbro. When that proved inadequate to provide all the power needed for Rochester and environs, an earlier plan to dam the Zumbro along North Broadway was resurrected.

The Silver Lake area was dug out as a Works Progress Administration project in the 1930s. The existing dam was built in the late 1940s and the Silver Lake power plant went online in 1947 or thereabouts.

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