Trying to find a Ghost town in MN
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Thread: Trying to find a Ghost town in MN

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  1. #1
    Feb 2010
    Twin Cities, Minnesota
    1 times

    Trying to find a Ghost town in MN

    Hey guys,

    I'm really new to treasure hunting, as in, I'm planning on starting when the snow melts and getting my ducks in a row in the mean time.

    I've been looking into many opportunities around my area and one thing I came across was a Ghost town called Hennepin.
    The details are as follows according to a website:
    Hennepin was located on the north bank of the Minnesota River southeast of Flying Cloud Airport, Eden Prairie in Hennepin Co. As far as I can tell, it was an optimistic site established around 1840(?), hoping that water traffic on the Minnesota River would be significant. As far as I know, the town was abandoned because the river is very inconstant in navigability; since Chaska further upriver was better-situated for river traffic; and the railroad ended up going further north, through central Eden Prairie leaving Hennepin a dead end. The site is a steep hillside slope, with at least 4-5 evident building ‘flats’ where the ground was cut/built up to provide a level place for a foundation. There are a couple of evident building pads, but no ruins nor any extant construction – the site really can only be inferred from ground contours.

    According to Minnesota Historical Society info Hennepin was “a short-lived village platted in 1852 on a portion of John H. McKenzie’s claim in sections 34 and 35, Eden Prairie, on the Minnesota River, was during several years a shipping point for grain. It was modeled after townsites in the East and was registered in Ramsey County in June 1853 and in Hennepin County, May 17, 1854. It had a store, a gristmill, a sawmill, a blacksmith ship, several homes, and a warehouse by the ferry. It failed to develop because of enterprises elsewhere in the township, and no traces remain.”

    It sounds like a promising place to dig around and see what's to find. Problem is I'm just not too sure of where it is, imagine that!

    Here are some hunches, any help from the experienced vets here would be much appreciated. This is something I'm really hoping to get into.
    44°48'45.91"N 93°26'6.00"W -- Seems like it could have had a makeshift marina
    44°48'48.93"N 93°26'11.23"W -- Looks Central with possibly many roads coming and going, also near the water with what looks like a marina
    44°48'49.65"N 93°26'15.80"W -- Another interesting looking spot with water access and flat terrain.

    These are my ideas thus far. I'm not sure where or how else to start researching stuff like this. Please feel free to bombard me with ideas and common practices in researching and finding potential locations to visit.

    Thanks Much

    Rebel - KGC likes this.

  2. #2

    Old township maps

    You can probably even find them on the internet.

    What I like to do is lay my old township maps out with current maps scaled to match with my copier and make notes from both. The modern maps provide the directions, the township maps provide the destinations.

    It is always quite fascinating to locate old grave yards, mills, orchards, schools...all neatly marked on the old maps.

    Rebel - KGC likes this.

  3. #3
    Charter Member
    An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

    Oct 2004
    N. San Diego area (Pic of my two best 'finds'; son and grandson)
    Minelab Explorer
    14528 times
    Honorable Mentions (2)

    Re: Trying to find a Ghost town in MN

    Here's Hennepin:

    Welcome to Treasure Net !!!
    I'll send you some more in just a few mintues...

    To put it bluntly, rather than romantically, the lost township of Hennepin is simply a land speculator’s scheme gone bust. But, as Helen Holden Anderson says in her "Eden Prairie, The First 100 Years," towns like Hennepin “show the hopes and ambitions of the early settlers to develop this territory, as well as demonstrate man’s innate courage and perhaps foolishness in his unending search for new frontiers of wealth.”

    In 1851 John Holmes and John McKenzie loaded a flat boat with provisions and building materials and ascended the Minnesota River to Chief Shakopee’s village. Here, Holmes built a trading post and started trading with the Indians. McKenzie continued to scout the Minnesota River to find his own land. Records show that the next year, he had made a claim on sections 34 and 35 in the future township of Eden Prairie. McKenzie and nine other non-resident businessmen, civic leaders and land speculators platted a portion of the claim into village lots and called the proposed town Hennepin. A very early account, by Chicagoan S. B. Wason, published in The Weekly Minnesotan, August 28, 1852, tells of his own search for a “place suitable for a new colony” along the Minnesota River. When as he arrives in Eden Prairie, his narrative continues, “I found McKenzie in a small board shanty at this place. He has the handsomest town site that I have seen since I left home, but he has done nothing on it yet…. I cannot help thinking that this will soon become a large town, elevated as it is about one hundred feet above the Minnesota River, and backed by so large an extent of good farming country.”

    Hennepin Landing was where the boats landed coming from St. Paul. There were at that time a dozen or 15 settlers in that vicinity.”

    The heyday of steam boating on the Minnesota River was the 10-year period from 1855-1865, when almost 3,000 departures from St. Paul were recorded. Steamboat travel was rarely uneventful in the early years. Helen Anderson writes, “The best boats had to stop and gather wood for fuel in riverside forests. Their smokestacks frequently were demolished by overhanging boughs and their hulls ware punctured by snags. These mishaps caused the passengers to while away hours on the banks, telling stories, hunting or picking wild berries.”

    During these Territorial years many ‘paper towns’ were platted and promoted in hopes of cashing in on ballooning land values. Some flourished, some were quickly abandoned. The 1855 plat map of Eden Prairie shows the grid that was to be Hennepin at the bend in the river but subsequent maps show no such town or mention of McKenzie. Sources suggest the causes for failure were:

    1.Much of the site itself was unbuildable with the steep river bluffs to the north and the boggy conditions of much of the river side.

    2. Proximity to the growing towns of Shakopee, Chaska and Carver which were situated on level ground, and the devastating financial Panic of 1857.

    The commercial site called Hennepin failed to flourish and was abandoned but the land was quickly bought and turned over to farming.

    Today, the Hennepin site is recorded as a “ghost town” by the State Historical Preservation Office but represents a “potential archeological district, worthy of further investigation.” If you look at present-day maps of the western-most end of River Road in Eden Prairie, you will see the sharp bend in the Minnesota River. That hillside slope and river bottom land is ... was ... Hennepin. All private land now, it is still hoped that someday a thorough archeological survey will be conducted and perhaps more mysteries solved.

    Rebel - KGC likes this.

  4. #4

    May 2005
    97 times

    Re: Trying to find a Ghost town in MN

    Maybe the site has been bulldozed, Riverview Rd appears to have been re-routed closer to river. If anything isn't bulldozed, it would be just S of Riverview Rd & just E of where road is very close to river. This would be the eqivalent of 2-3 blocks SW of Spyglass Dr. HH, George (MN)
    Rebel - KGC likes this.

  5. #5

    Mar 2017
    1 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    Resurrecting necro thread.
    Hennepin is clearly platted shown here: Sectional Map of Hennepin Co. Minnesota Showing Cities, Townships, Townsites, Roads & RailRoads 1860 :: Hennepin County Library

    My guess is that the bulk of the town was platted up on the top of the bluffs, and what little "town" there was has now been totally obliterated by home construction.
    You MIGHT have luck checking between those homes and the river, perhaps? The banks are fairly steep, so the river doesn't meander much.
    Rebel - KGC likes this.



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