Tuesday, April 9, 2013

H is for History - A to Z April Challenge

One of our favorite subjects for homeschooling is history. We have studied world-, American-, state-, and township/city history.

One thing we hadn't yet studied was the history of a nearby city in Minnesota named Forest Lake. When the settlers first arrived in Forest Lake, it was covered with timber, interspersed with marshes and hay meadows. It was one of the last townships in Washington County to be settled because it was 14 miles from the St. Croix River, and because much of the land was not easily farmed.

The north shore of Forest Lake was on the boundary line established by the U.S. government in 1825 to separate the warring Sioux (Dakota) to the south and Chippewa (Ojibwe) to the north. The area was used by both the Sioux and Chippewa for fishing, hunting, and gathering wild rice.

Olivia and Sophia near the northwest side of Forest Lake.
Close to here was the boundary line between the 
Sioux and Chippewa tribes.

Forest Lake Village began as a fuel stop for the Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad, which opened in 1868 to Wyoming (Minnesota), and soon ran from St. Paul to Duluth as the Duluth & St. Paul Railroad (later the Northern Pacific). 
Railroad depot in Forest Lake.

Banking on railroad traffic to come to and through Forest Lake Village, Michael Marsh opened a store at Clear Lake in 1867. That building burned; so the following year Marsh started a resort hotel, post office, mercantile store, and boat landing on the northwest shore of Forest Lake.

A woman and children on their wagon 
near the railroad depot.

The Marsh House became a famous resort, entertaining guests from all over the world. Although Presidents McKinley and Cleveland were visitors, wealthy St. Paul people were the chief patrons.

In the 1880s, when the summer resort hotel was the most popular, it had room for 75 guests, who were provided with boats and fishing tackle. For ladies and non-fishermen, the hotel encouraged playing croquet or taking a ride on the small steamboat (the Germania) on the lake.

Before long, more hotels and rental cottages were built.

A resort that offered boats and canoes 
for use on Forest Lake.

Factories in the Twin Cities held their summer outings in Forest Lake. Two dance pavilions were in operation. In the center of town next to the lake were picnic grounds, a bandstand, a coaster ride, tennis courts, and a bathhouse that had bathing suits for rent.

Bathhouse that had bathing suits for rent.

By 1897 (seven years after our home was built), excursion trains ran daily from St. Paul.

Children playing in front of the 
Mary Davis Sunshine Lodge.

Established in 1903 on the site later occupied by City Hill, the Mary Davis Sunshine Lodge drew hundreds of economically-disadvantaged children from the Twin Cities every summer.

Sophia and Olivia are standing by Forest Lake's City Hall.
Over 100 years ago, the Mary Davis Sunshine Lodge was located here. 

Many lakeshore cottages were built between 1910 and 1930. Rustic cottage resorts and housekeeping cabins flourished in the 1930s and 1940s.

A summer cottage/home on Forest Lake.

In the early 1900s, there was a the farming community called "Garen" that was on Highway 61 south of Forest Lake at about 190th Street.

Although the community of Garen doesn't exist today,
we were curious to see where it once was located.
To the west of Highway 61, there is currently a farm and field.

The railroad built a switch line with cattle pens here so farmers could load their cattle into boxcars for shipment to St. Paul.

Cows in a pasture.

Garen also had a store and a school that doubled as the community center. The school had five grades: A, B, C, D, and E.

Looking to the east on 190th, there is a dirt road
with a few houses on each side. 
About a mile down on the left-hand side is another dirt road
that leads to a major organic dairy operation.

By 1969 the feel of the the town had changed. Interstate 35 was completed, connecting Forest Lake with the Twin Cities. This made commuting much faster; and Forest Lake became a bedroom community at that point. Many of the summer cottages were turned into year-round homes.

It was interesting for us to learn more about Forest Lake; see how it once looked in comparison to how it looks today; and to discover that there was a small town south of the city that no longer exists today. Perhaps learning about other nearby cities and towns would help us further appreciate and understand where we live.


Teresa Coltrin said...

Cool post. I believe history brings us full circle to who we are.

Kathy said...

Fascinating! I think it is cool that you are teaching your children all about the local history plus.


Anonymous said...

Wonderful post ... Minnesota has loads of Swedes ... 30% of Sweden immigrated to the States and most of them ended up in Minnesota.
Very interesting reading. Good luck with the challenge and thanks for visiting me. *smile

Margaret Almon said...

That summer cottage is lovely with the exposed eaves. And your window stars are awesome! Are they from the Waldorf school tradition?

Francene Stanley said...

I enjoyed your pictorical tour over time. I love old photos like that one with the family on the wagon.

M. J. Joachim said...

I really didn't enjoy history until I got a little older. It's nice that you can encourage your kids to be inspired by it in their youth. Truly, when it is taught and learned with creativity, so that it comes alive, it is fascinating.