Category Archives: Places

Nachtsheim’s Bakery: ca. 1893

By David R. Schleper

According to the Shakopee Tribune, on July 17, 1903, the Shakopee Bakery was established “a score or more years ago, and in daily operation ever since….” Baker Joseph Ploumen, along with Joseph Nachtsheim, Jr. and George Vierling were on the job from four in the morning until sometimes late at night with family helping to make bread for the people of Shakopee.

Everyone is familiar more or less with the mysteries of bread making. In the past, the mother kneaded the bread and coaxed into sweetness the fluffy whiteness, the staff of life. But when you stepped into Nachtsheim’s Bakery, where bakers in their white garments and caps mixed up huge barrels with flour to turn into bread, cakes, pies, and cookies, one could see how special it is.

“In the first place it is interesting to note that there is no fire when the baking is done. The big oven is set into a solid brick wall, and one can look into its cavernous maw by the aid of a lard lamp and see where 300 loaves of bread are being browned by the even heat,” noted the Shakopee Tribune. “The bottom is of square stones, and the low ceiling is an arch of brick on which is a lot of sand to hold the heat. The fire is built on one side below, and is kept up in the morning until the oven and its surrounding walls are sufficiently heated for the afternoon’s bakery, after which the fire is allowed to go entirely out for the day.”

While this is going on, the bakers are getting the dough in pans, the rolls into groups of seven or eight dozen, and then the baking begins. “The big pans are placed in the oven and taken out by means of a long wooden shovel, and the workmen are surprisingly deft in handling the pans with the clumsy looking wooden shovel, and the workmen are surprisingly deft in handling the pans with the clumsy looking implement.”

The chef begins to mix up big batches of eggs, flour, and other ingredients in an immense brass pail after the bread and rolls are done. All the ingredients are done by weight, so it becomes easier to do it just like someone would do it at home using a small basinful. White bread, cream bread, rye bread, graham bread, rolls, buns, white and brown cookies, all kinds of pies and cakes, along with special ordered fine pastries are all turned out at the bakery.

The people in Shakopee especially loved the rye bread. “The bakery makes all its wares from the yeast up, even making its own baking powder; and one is impressed with the thought that a baker has to know a lot of tricks of his trade as well as any other artisan. Yeast is one of the mysteries of bread making, and it was interesting to see the workmen boiling in a wash boiler a lot of hops, which are boiled until a match won’t blow out on the surface, the strained product to be used from time to time with the other ingredients in a big barrel….”

Shakopee had many famous products, including the best carbonated beverages, red brick, stones and ranges, and Little Six and Diamond S flour. Added to this list would be the rye bread from the Nachtsheim Bakery.

The Nachtshiem Bakery was a popular place in Shakopee in the 1900s!

(Some information from “The Shakopee Bakery,” Shakopee Tribune, July 17, 1903, p. 4.)

The Shakopee Ice House (1920s)

By David R. Schleper

Ice houses were buildings used to store ice throughout the year, commonly used prior to the invention of the refrigerator. They were usually man-made, close to natural sources of winter ice such as freshwater lakes, or in Shakopee, the Minnesota River.

During the winter, ice and snow would be taken into the ice house and packed with insulation, often straw or sawdust. They would remain frozen for many months, often until the following winter, and could be used as a source of ice during summer months. The main application of the ice was the storage of perishable foods, but it could also be used simply to cool drinks, or allow ice-cream and sorbet desserts to be prepared.

Frank and Leo Siebenaler went into the ice business during the 1920s in Shakopee. They bought the business from Edward Veight. The ice house was right by the old feed mill.

The storage place for the ice was an old packing house on the west end of Shakopee. The building was a three layer thick, red brick building which measured 30’ x 100’. The building was 20 feet above ground, with a 10-foot basement.

The ice cutting was done with a big ice saw, by hand. They always waited for below-zero weather. The ice was made mostly at night because of the cold weather. They hauled the ice with teams of horses. The ice was packed in sawdust.

Homes in Shakopee at that time had ice boxes. The brothers carried the ice with tongs. They wore rubber aprons and rubber vests. Later on the electric refrigerator came along.

Before the ice would thicken enough to harvest, the snow had to be cleaned off the ice field. The old method was a wooden scraper pulled by a team of horses. Later, Leo and Frank used trucks. The ice on the river was always thinner where the main stream ran faster, which was on the north side of the river. One winter, Leo was cleaning the snow off the ice with his Oldsmobile truck. He went too far on the current side, and his truck broke through. Luckily, Leo and Frank always plowed with the driver’s door removed for a quick exit! The water was over his cab, with only one angle iron on the top of the truck sticking out. They had to wait for two weeks to get quick enough to work around the truck to remove it!

At the loading platform, the rafts of ice were split into single blocks by a splitting bar and a needle bar. To put the blocks on the loading platform, a long slide was used three feet below the water level. A hook was placed behind two or three cakes and pulled up the slide by one horse.

Frank’s job was to take care of the river crew, and Leo took care of the ice house crew. Six to eight teams with sleds, each hauling eight cakes of ice, hauled the ice to the ice house. Some of the men who used horse teams to haul the ice up the hill to the ice house included John Breeggemann, George Ince, Jake Menden, Peter Ploumen, George Realander, and Sonny Scherer.

If there were bare spots on the road, the snow had to be hauled to cover that area so that the horses could pull the heavy loads. Later, the horses were replaced with a Ford Model-T truck, and in 1927, a Chevrolet truck was used.

The road from the river to the ice house was two blocks. Eventually, Frank and Leo cut the teams in half by blasting with dynamite behind the ice house, making a road. Pete Thielen, the local dynamiter, did the blasting.

Leo’s Oldsmobile truck was used with a long rope and pulley to pull the cakes up the slide and into the ice house. Later, Frank made an elevator, which raised one cake at a time. The ice packers, who worked inside the ice house, had to be good at handling and packing ice. Bill Greening, Art Schultz, Sam Jansen, Paul Prellwitz, and Art Hamilton were some of the ice packers. The ice was heavy, and they could easily be hurt if they weren’t fast and careful.

Once the ice house was filled with ice, it had to be completely covered with sawdust. The sawdust pile was on the outside of the ice house. It usually took two days to fill the ice house with sawdust. Frank later made a hay carrier track, attached to a 55 gallon barrel. The Siebenaler boys had to fill the barrel, and sometimes they got a shower of sawdust!

During the summer, Frank and Leo were at the ice house by 6 a.m. Cutting the ice out of the 10-foot basement was quite a chore. Later, Frank bought a hoist for $40 from Mrs. Whaeling. Her husband had dementia, and he didn’t want them to sell the hoist. So Mrs. Whaeling put the hoist in the grass across the street from where they lived, near Hennen’s Station, and Frank and Leo picked it up late in the evening.

Ice was delivered to private homes and businesses. They filled the ice boxes four times a week, and it made a mess on the floors of some houses! When the brothers were delivering ice, children would come and the men would chisel off pieces of ice for them.

The cost of the ice delivery was $2.50 for a 500-pound coupon book. The chips were marked with Siebenaler Bros. Ice Co. and the ice was the size of a 50-cent piece. The wholesale price for large orders or a truck load was $4 per ton. Some of the places that had ice delivered included Barney Jansen and Charles Hartmann, who both had a meat market, and the Hamm’s Branch. The Redman Ice Cream Factory, which was located on the northwest corner of First and Holmes Street was Siebenaler’s biggest customer.

John Siebenaler was the grandson of Leo. “Leo and Frank invented the first ice cubes by cutting the ice, which they got out of the Minnesota River, into cubes with a series of saws. In the beginning they used horses to cut the ice out of the river and pull it up the banks of the river into their ice house. Later on they invented a series of belts powered by a gas engine to pull the ice up from the river.”

Frank and Leo also invented an ice cube machine and sold ice cubes. According to John Siebenaler, “Before the ice cubes became popular bars or restaurants had ice picks that they used to chop up larger chunks of ice to fit into a glass.”

John also remembered his dad riding on the ice wagon and throwing ice at other kids running after the ice truck. He also recalled his aunt. “One of my dad’s sisters used to carry blocks of ice into people’s homes to put into their ice boxes. I remember the ice man coming into the house and putting the ice in our ice box.”

And that is how people got ice in the good ole days!

(Some information from Lucille Siebenaler Olson and the Shakopee Heritage Society Newsletter and interview with John Siebenaler.)

The Golf Tee Water Tower (1940)

By David R. Schleper

Water tower on Tenth Avenue and Holmes Street intersection, 1942In the spring of 1940, Shakopee decided to erect a modern municipal water tank. They located it at Holmes Street and Prairie Avenue (now known as Tenth Avenue).

A new 250,000-gallon, all-steel welded water tower was hailed at that time as the largest in the world, according to Popular Mechanics. The globe top water tower was erected by the Chicago Bridge and Iron Works Company. It took 115 tons of steel plates to build, and it stands 130 feet tall. The shining ball atop the steel shaft is 43 feet in diameter and has a capacity of 300,000 gallons.

The tower became a shining monument in Shakopee, and could be seen from miles around. Because the surface was covered with aluminum paint, it was easy to see.

On September 18, local sign painter Ed Fonnier climbed the 130-foot tank and painted SHAKOPEE in letters 4 feet, 8 inches high. When completed, the lettering stretched 28 feet across the sphere.

As Fonnier climbed down he said, “That tank is plenty high!”

Ten Eyck Farm in the Middle of Shakopee (1968)

By David R. Schleper

Charlie and Dorothy Ten Eyck and their six children lived on a three-acre “farm” right in the middle of Shakopee, on East Fourth Street. Besides raising honey bees and various fruits, the Ten Eycks had a huge vegetable garden. It was on Fillmore and Market Street, and closer to Fifth Avenue. Dorothy canned and froze all the fruits and vegetables the family could use, and the surplus was sold to friends and neighbors.

Charlie received first place in the whole state in cut-comb honey. He also took blue ribbons in Concord grapes, Portland grapes, Juanita plums, and Mount Royal plums. His exhibits of extracted honey, Regent apples, crabapples, and Fredonia grapes rated red ribbons. “We’ve been exhibiting for the past five years and this is the fifth year straight our Concord grapes have won blue ribbons,” said Charlie Ten Eyck in 1968.

Commenting on his honey exhibit, Ten Eyck said it takes 24 boxes of cut-comb honey, or 24 jars of extracted honey to make up a state fair exhibit. The reason for this is so judges can get an all-around sample of the honey crop. Honey is judged on flavor, color, and density and exhibitors compete with each other, rather than against a score sheet.

Charlie Ten Eyck raised his crops as a hobby, as he worked full-time for the Minnesota Correctional Institution for Women at Shakopee as a guard and maintenance man.

The Ten Eycks’ 100-year-old house was heated by floor furnaces, leaving the basement an excellent storage spot for winter crops such as potatoes and squash. The Ten Eycks ate their own potatoes year round. “Last year I grew Russet potatoes a foot long in this wonderful sandy soil,” Charlie said.

Dorothy Ten Eyck demonstrated the huge honey extractor operated in the basement storeroom. The extractor came from her father, Leonard Kaiser of Fish Lake, who also started the Ten Eycks raising bees by giving them their original swarm in 1958.

The Ten Eycks attributed their success in gardening to their soil, a rich sandy loam, and to regular use of manures and other fertilizers, as well as an insect control program using sprays. “But it is a lot of hard work,” they both said. “You’ve got to love it.”

(Some information from “Charles Ten Eyck Sweeps State Fair Fruit, Comb Honey Class,” Shakopee Valley News, 12 Sept 1968.)

Shakopee Flour Mill

By David R. Schleper

Flour mill, circa 1900Ries brothers built a mill establishment in 1859 in Shakopee. It was a three story stone mill with three runs of stone. After three years, it was allowed to lie idle. The city authorized $3,000 for anyone who would erect and operate a flouring mill.

C.E. Woodward purchased the old mill and machinery, repaired it, and ran it for a few months in 1875. He sold it to George F. Strait and Company. It was called the Shakopee City Flouring Mill.

On May 10, 1877, the flour mill was destroyed by fire, but was soon rebuilt.

The mill had a strike in 1920, and in 1922 the elevator was struck by lightning but was never re-built.

The building was gobbled up by one chain, then another, and then they closed the mill.

The flour mill was torn down in 1969.

References: Shakopee Valley News, 23 Jan 1969.

Bareass Creek in the 1950s

By David R. Schleper

When he was nine or 10 years old, John Siebenaler used to go skinny dipping in the Minnesota River behind Growler Delbow’s house in Shakopee. He called this area “Bareass Creek” for obvious reasons.

In the 1950s, the city sewage went directly into the river where Huber Park is now located. John remembered swimming down river from the Huber Park area. “You had to keep an eye out for turds floating down river,” John recalled.

Of course, being nine or 10 years old, John and his friends often didn’t always let their buddies know when an incoming turd would hit them in the back of the head.

John Siebenaler and his friends also had a lot of fun with a rope swing, which allowed them to swing out over the Minnesota River before they dropped into the murky water below.

His parents didn’t know that he was swimming in the Minnesota River. John remembered drying off before going home. Of course, the clay mud would stick, and even busy parents would HAVE to know what was happening!

(Some information from John Siebenaler in “If You Grew Up in Shakopee…Then You Remember” Facebook post.)

Post Office in Shakopee (1853)

By David R. Schleper

Shakopee Post Office
Shakopee Post Office on Sommerville Street.

The first post office in Sha k’pay was established on Nov. 25, 1853.

The first postmaster was Thomas A. Holmes. This post office in the Territory of Minnesota existed until it closed on April 12, 1857. Once Minnesota became a state, the Shakopee Post Office was established on April 13, 1857.

As a side note: William Holmes, brother of Thomas A. Holmes, was postmaster in Sand Creek starting on March 29, 1856. It was changed to Jordan on Jan. 24, 1872.

The current post office is at 135 Sommerville Street South, in Shakopee. The ZIP code is 55379. Go write a letter today!

The Octagon House (ca. 1855)

By David R. Schleper

The mid-19th century saw an American fascination with exotic architecture, and forms from other countries – Turkish pavilions, Swiss chalets, Chinese pagodas – began springing up. The unique American contribution to innovative house shapes was the octagon house, a style made popular by amateur architect Orson Squire Fowler.

The Octagon House
The Octagon House on the northeast corner of Second Avenue and Dakota Street.

Fowler extolled the virtues of healthier lifestyle and economy of his design. Although more than a thousand octagon houses were built, American preference for four-sided dwellings won out. Most of these homes, from grand mansions to humble country Victorians, were built within a decade between roughly 1850 and 1860, before the American Civil War.

The Octagon House in Shakopee was built before 1869, as it was shown in a map in 1869. The Octagon House was located on the corner of Dakota and Second Streets. Second Street is shared with a railroad track. It was a two story house. A segment of the 1869 map showed the house at the center of the image.

At least one octagon house, in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, was used as a station sheltering escaped slaves on the Underground Railroad.  Isaac Brown, a carpenter and trader with Native Americans, reportedly grew fearful of attacks from them in 1856, so he built a house that was designed for hiding. An Orson Fowler-designed eight-sided structure, it contained nine secret passageways and spaces. A tunnel was built between the house and a woodshed, which was used as a safe house on the Underground Railway. A small storage room beneath the front porch was used to hide the runaway slaves.

The Octagon House in Shakopee was torn down in 1940.

The St. Paul House (1854-1965)

By David R. Schleper

The St. Paul House was built on the southwest corner of Second Avenue and Fuller Street in 1854. For over 110 years, the light post of the St. Paul House was a sign of excellence.

Joseph Thiem opened this as the Railroad Hotel and Saloon. Although trains didn’t come to Shakopee until 1865, it did provide lodging to the river traffic and planned ahead for the inevitable railroad business. And Shakopee could always use a new saloon!

It gained prominence and notoriety as a saloon and hotel, serving both travelers and the local population. The St. Paul House was also notorious for gambling during the 1920s and 1930s.

Over time, ownership of the hotel changed hands including John Ederts, John Krauth, Ed Schmitt, Ben Klayman, and E.B. Rossman. In 1931 it was purchased by Frank Wampach. He opened the St. Paul House Bar in 1934, added a bowling alley in 1939, and undertook a lavish remodel beginning in 1948. Over the next six years the second story was rebuilt, the Redwood Terrace lounge was added in 1952, and the Mardi Gras room opened in 1954.

Those changes, along with the hotel’s 100th anniversary, prompted Wampach to rename his business the “New St. Paul House.” Patrons enjoyed dinner and drinks seven days a week with dancing every night except Sundays. The facility was both popular and the standard of excellence in fine dining. It was recommended as a place to visit in the 1961 edition of the Duncan Hines travel book, “Adventures in Good Eating.”

The menu itself consisted of two pages, and included everything from appetizers and relishes to selective dinners and desserts. Prices varied from 20 cents for coffee, buttermilk, and milk, to $10.75 for charcoal broiled bon fire double sirloin for two. The inside of the back cover was the liquor menu and included various types of whiskeys, scotch, brandies, beers, hot toddys, Collins, rickeys, fizzies, egg nogs, cocktail drinks like daiquiris and manhattans, and fancy drinks like zombies and pink ladies.

Next to the St. Paul House was the Minneapolis House, which became Abeln’s Bar. Old Jack sat on a stool in back, and sold penny candy to kids, giving them a dollar’s worth of candy for a few pennies.

The New St. Paul House was destroyed by a fire in 1965.

The Stagecoach Museum (1951-1981)

By David R. Schleper

Stagecoach Museum promotional material
Stagecoach Museum promotional material

Before Valleyfair and the Renaissance Festival, there was the Stagecoach Museum. From 1951 to 1981, Ozzie and Marie Klavestad, proprietors, dressed in old western garb and greeted the visitors one by one. The Stagecoach Museum was located on Highway 101 between Savage and Shakopee.

Ozzie and Marie developed the Stagecoach Museum complex to preserve Americana. It was built on the site of the former Gellenbeck Stage Stop (1849-1880). The area is a valley near the Minnesota River, and near the Dakota’s Maka Yusota, or Boiling Springs.

The museum and restaurant displayed a collection of 3,000 guns that Ozzie owned. A lifelong collector, Ozzie amassed an assemblage of firearms including engraved rifles belonging to Jesse James, Annie Oakley, and Buffalo Bill Cody on the walls. A four-barrel, percussion plains rifle of Chief Shakopee was also there.

Stagecoach Museum postcard
Stagecoach Museum postcard

The restaurant had waitresses dressed as cowgirls, with earrings that were little tiny six shooters that actually shot. Ozzie often came out looking like Wild Bill Hickok, shooting his pistols into the ceilings. One area had a Silver Dollar Bar, with silver dollars under glass. Heads of dead animals, such as buffalo and elk, were on the walls. A player piano played by itself and an old vending machine, called a mutoscope, had picture shows on it – put in a penny, turn a crank on the side, and watch the pictures flip through to appear like a movie!

Behind the museum was Sand Burr Gulch, which was a replica of a western town with over 20 buildings containing 75 animated life-size figures synchronized with recordings in appropriate settings. It recreated an Old West street complete with blacksmith, barber shop, saloon, an underground gold mine, and the Palace which had an animated band playing Sousa’s music. On Sundays fast-draw shoot-outs happened in the Old West town.

Next to the museum was the Bella Union Opera House, where actors put on “mellerdramas” of yesteryear, where the audience could hiss the villains and cheer the heroes as loud as they wanted.

The Stagecoach Players Company was founded in 1962 by Wendell Josal (president and managing director) and Robert Moulton (vice-president and artistic director) to perform melodramas with musical olios in the opera house of the Stagecoach complex. In 1971, Moulton was succeeded by Lee Adey. The troupe mounted 44 productions in 18 years, playing to over 300,000 people in 1,898 performances as a commercial company.

Stagecoach Museum, circa 1978
Stagecoach Museum, circa 1978

Ozzie loved guns. He bought his first cap gun at the age of five and owned over 100 before he turned 18. He also was fascinated with the western frontier. Ozzie loved history. He read all the time: history of the West and Civil War history. The Stagecoach became a public display case for his obsessions.

For 30 years, Ozzie and Marie ran their enterprise, with help from a few hired hands who helped run the restaurant and the theater, and kept the place running. By 1981, Ozzie and Marie Klavestad retired and sold the property. Though it was supposed to carry on the tradition, nothing happened, and the Stagecoach Museum began the slow descent of time into rubble. When Ozzie died in a nursing home in 1986, his abandoned dream museum was already in broken fragments.

In 1996, five fire departments burned the remnants of the restaurant, bar, Sand Burr Gulch, and Bella Union Opera House.

And so, the Stagecoach is just a memory.

(Information from Bea Nordstrom, Scott County History Museum, and “How the West Was Lost” by Joseph Hart, City Pages, Oct. 9, 1996.)