The history of Railroads can be very
tricky, with a plethora of spurs and stations and changes in
ownership to keep track of. Information in brackets provide
alternate dates, etc. Please
contact us if you have
an additions or corrections.
DAN PATCH THE RAILROAD
The Minneapolis, St. Paul, Rochester, and Dubuque Electric
Traction Co., universally known as the Dan Patch Electric Railway,
was incorporated in 1907 by Col. Marion Willis "Will" Savage
of Minneapolis (2600 Portland Ave.). It was intended to be an electric
line, but the cost was prohibitive, so the cars were
gas-electric. In fact, the line had the first
gas-electric freight locomotive used by an American
The train was nicknamed the "Dan
Patch" for Savage's famous racehorse (see below).
Indeed the symbol of the Dan Patch Electric Line was a
lightning bolt on a horseshoe. The line originally
ran from Minneapolis south to Savage's 750 acre farm in...
Savage. The 1,700 acres of land he owned outside of St. Paul
had been called Hamilton, but he renamed it Savage in 1904.
Construction of the new railroad began in 1908, and the first train ran on July
4, 1910. It ran from 54th and Nicollet to
Park in Lakeville. It reached Northfield on December
The line came to St. Louis Park in 1913, when a presentation
to the Village Council was made on September 30.
Representing the railroad were D.S. Smith, General Manager;
Albert Graber, Engineer; and R.T. Boardman, Attorney. The
line was approved by the Council with the provisions that
the fare be reduced, and that steam was prohibited. An article in the Journal
dated November 2, 1913 indicated that the line was currently
under construction. [In 1914, the company was ordered
not to take dirt from the middle of 41st Street between
Brookside and Zarthan after a request to close that road was denied.]
The line began at what was called Auto Club Junction, which
was near the clubhouse of the Minneapolis Auto Club on the
Mississippi River Bluffs. [It traveled through Edina
and St. Louis Park, and ended at the juncture of Glenwood
Ave. and Highways 100 and 55.]
Passenger service started in 1915. The St. Louis Park
section started at Superior Blvd (394), traveling to Cedar
Lake Road, Park Manor (Dakota), Lake Street, Broadway
(Walker), and Goodrich. Stations on the middle section
were set up at Foster’s Place (?), Excelsior Ave., Goodrich
Ave., Lake Street, and Minnetonka Blvd. The southern leg
crossed Alabama Ave., Excelsior Blvd., 41st St., 42nd St.,
Brookside north of the Creek and Brookside south of the
Creek. There was a passenger station on Brookside Ave.
between Division Street and Interlachen Blvd. A
short spur ran north from behind the Brookside station but
was removed in 1928 at the behest of citizens who wanted to
create a park.
It took 15 minutes and 5 cents to get from St. Louis Park to
the passenger depot at Third Ave. No. and Seventh Street No.
Although its charter called
for electric lines for passenger traffic only, on June 3,
1915 the line requested permission to use steam. With or
without the Council’s approval, they started to run steam
trains and haul freight in 1916. The trains were noisy and left
behind black, oily smoke that clung to laundry hanging in
On July 16, 1916, the line went into receivership and was
reorganized as the Minneapolis, Northfield, and Southern.
In 1920, auto dealers Win Stephens
and Harry Pence bought the line to transport their cars from
Passenger service was discontinued in 1942.
In 1982, the Soo Line bought the line - and the
Milwaukee Road in 1985. The team track at Excelsior Blvd.
was discontinued and leased to Fred G. Anderson in the
The Soo Line was purchased by the Canadian Pacific in 1990.
No matter the current owner,
many people still refer to it as the Dan Patch.
timeline written by Doug Johnson.
Also see the article on the
Dan Patch Railroad
in the Re-Echo.
DAN PATCH THE HORSE
In 1904 harness racing was a big sport and the most famous
horse was Dan Patch. In 145 races, he lost only two. He was
so fast that other owners would not race against him. At
expositions he had to race against the clock. He was racing
against the clock when he set the world record of a 1:55
minute mile. at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds on September
8, 1906. It was the first of 14 times breaking the
world’s record. It took 32 years for his record to be
Dan Patch was a dark brown pacer, born in Indiana in 1896.
amazing harness-racing horse had been purchased in December
1902 by Col. M.W. Savage, owner of the International Stock Food
Company in Minneapolis, which manufactured and sold animal
feed. As advertising for this company, he highly promoted
Dan Patch wherever he appeared. Savage's home was on the
Minnesota River, approximately where the Masonic Home is
Dan Patch lived like a king in the town of Savage
(originally Hamilton), in a
heated barn called the Taj Mahal. The complex also
included a one-mile track and a half-mile covered track. He retired from racing in 1909.
He was a merchandising phenomenon, with his name on cars,
toys, cigars, coffee, and even a washing machine. A
movie was made about him in 1949. Dan Patch died on July 11, 1916,
and they say Savage died of a broken heart the next day.
Dan Patch may have had another connection to St. Louis Park.
Some remember a racetrack in the vicinity of Webster/Xenwood.
Mrs. Ora Baston remembers Dan Patch being trained at a track
"in the heart of the Park."