Carver: Small City, Big History

It is easy to overlook this tiny little town squeezed between the slightly more noticeable cities of Shakopee and Chaska, but for those who take notice there is a quaint little city with a rich history to be found.

Downtown Carver, Courtesy of the City of Carver

Downtown Carver, Courtesy of the City of Carver

The City of Carver was named by Governor Alexander Ramsey after the British Explorer Jonathan Carver who passed through the area in the 1760s.  In 1851 the present cite of the city was settled by Axel Jorgenson who established a hotel on his 415 acre parcel.  A short 3 years later, a company (which Ramsey was a part of) called Carver Land Company comprised of St. Paul real estate investors, bought the land from Jorgenson.   By 1855 the city had a well established business district , 35 buildings and a ferry.

Carver Fun Facts

  • Gold was discovered in Carver in 1858, and a small “gold rush” ensued.
  • After the New Ulm Massacre (Don’t know what this is? Find out here.) many of the displaced settlers arrived looking for food, shelter and protection in Carver.
  • In 1893, Carver got it’s first telephone services.

Carver Hotel, Courtesy of the Carver County Historical Society

So how did this bustling center for commerce wind up being  a small town?  Prohibition saw to the closing of many of Carver’s saloons, which was a large industry in the city at the time, and following the repeal of Prohibition, The Great Depression began.  The economic hardship struck Carver hard, closing many more businesses.  Perhaps it is this same economic collapse that caused the city to be such a gem with many of its historic structures still standing today.