In 1853, Isaac Stevens conducted an expedition for the Northern Pacific Railway. He wrote the following in his journal and the attached sketch has survived:
June 22. – My party broke camp about 6 a.m. The first obstruction we met in our journey today occurred about three and a half miles from camp, which, our guides inform us, is a branch of Crow river. One more swift, narrow, but deep stream occurs before reaching White Bear lake, offering some impediment to our progress. By the application of personal force this difficulty was overcome without lightening the loads or even doubling teams. We arrived at White Bear lake about nine an a half miles from this morning’s camp, at 10 ¼ a.m.
Leaving Lightning lake the country seems to change its character and is no longer a flat undiversified surface, with occasionally a gentle undulation scarcely attracting attention. It has gradually changed to a heavy rolling prairie which, before approaching White Bear lake, becomes broken up into hills, valleys, and basins, varying from thirty to fifty feet in depth. Boulders and stone, from the size of pebbles to paving stones, are very numerous. Our route today appears to be gradually ascending, at a probable rate of from eight to ten feet per mile.
White Bear lake, (see accompanying sketch,) upon or near which most of the parties of the survey are encamped, lies in sight of our trail, about two miles distant to the south. It is a beautiful sheet of water, bordered with timber, about fourteen miles long and two miles wide, with high, swelling banks running back a mile or so, and rising to the height of about one hundred and fifty feet.
In 1869, executives from the Northern Pacific Railway embarked on an survey to examine possible routes for the railroad. They returned with these images of 3-year-old Glenwood: