History of Maplewood
The written history of Maplewood begins about 165 years ago when European and French-Canadian settlers began farming in this area. Prior to this time, the land was inhabited by the Dakota Indians with occasional visits by French and English fur traders and explorers. The landscape was a mix of scrub oak and prairie with many wetlands and lakes.
In 1850, a group of families ventured from St. Paul
The first organized transportation in this area was a stagecoach line that ran north along Edgerton Street and Desoto Street from St Paul to Duluth. This line was started in 1856 and the cost for a 36 hour, 156 mile trip was 10 dollars. The line remained in service until the first railroad was completed from St Paul to Duluth in 1870. This was the Lake Superior and Mississippi Railroad that followed today’s Bruce Vento Trail. In 1877 it was reorganized as the St Paul and Duluth Railroad and in 1900 it was acquired by the Northern Pacific Railroad and still later it became the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad.
In 1884-86, the Wisconsin Central Railroad built a line from St Paul to Wisconsin that intersected with the St Paul and Duluth Railroad at Lake Phalen Junction. Lake Phalen Junction was changed to Gladstone in 1887 when William and Mary Dawson purchased the adjacent land, platted a town site and predicted it to “rival St Paul”. The town site was named after William Gladstone, a popular British statesman of that time. Dawson relocated his St Paul Plow Works to the northeast corner of the railroad intersection and convinced the St Paul and Duluth Railroad to build their maintenance shops in the southwest corner, which is today’s Gladstone Savanna. For a time, Gladstone prospered and by the 1890’s, the businesses employed 1,000 workers. It had a post office, a hotel, at least two saloons, a brothel and a population of about 150.
But Gladstone suffered a series of misfortunes that lead to its demise. First, a fire destroyed the Plow Works in 1892. The company rebuilt but in 1896, the major stockholder, William Dawson, filed for bankruptcy. In 1903, the plant reopened under the name Poirier Manufacturing Company but it declared bankruptcy in 1908. In 1910, the railroads changed the name of the depot to Gloster to avoid confusion with Gladstone, Michigan but locals continued to call the area Gladstone. The last straw for Gladstone’s industries was when the railroad shops closed around 1917. Gladstone became a semi-ghost town by the 1920’s with many people leaving for jobs elsewhere. The price of houses dropped and the burning of houses to collect insurance money became a regular occurrence. Trains still operated and some residents commuted to work in downtown St Paul. The depot continued in operation through the 1950’s.
The area south of Hudson Road became McLean Township when Minnesota became a state in 1858 and the area north of Hudson Road was New Canada Township. New Canada’s first town meetings were at a school building in today’s Little Canada and McLean’s were at a school building near Point Douglas Road and Lower Afton Road. In 1879, New Canada Township built a more centrally-located town hall near the north shore of Lake Phalen. This was moved to Gladstone around 1900. In 1887, the residents in the northeast corner of New Canada voted to withdraw from New Canada township to incorporate as the village of North St Paul. During the last half of the 19th century, the City of St Paul repeatedly annexed land from both townships and around 1890, the remaining five square miles of McLean merged with New Canada. Annual meetings were a big event and the little town hall was packed with residents. By the early 1950’s, the old town hall was sold and offices were moved to a back room of the Gladstone Fire department with annual meetings held in the Gladstone School.
After World War II, the housing boom began in New Canada Township when returning veterans started families, received low financing rates on new houses and sought city water,
Waldo Luebben was the first mayor and many of the former New Canada Township board members became village officials. Ed O’Mara suggested the name “Maplewood” for the new village and Warren Berger found a maple leaf in his backyard and traced the outline
First Organized Transportation
The first organized transportation in this area was a stagecoach line that was along present day Edgerton Street. This line began in 1856, and it cost 10 dollars for the trip from St. Paul to Duluth. This stagecoach line remained in service until the first railroad was built to Duluth in 1870. This was the Lake Superior and Mississippi Railroad and followed the Vento Trail. By the 1880’s the line was owned by the St. Paul and Duluth Railroad. This owner would play a big part in Maplewood’s development. In 1886, the Wisconsin Central Railroad built a line that intersected with the St. Paul and Duluth Railroad. A townsite was planned at the junction of these 2 railroads that was predicted to “rival St. Paul.” William and Mary Dawson platted out a town and decided to name the place “Gladstone” after William Gladstone, a popular British statesman of the time. Dawson planned to relocate his plow work business there and was able to entice the St. Paul and Duluth Railroad to put its shops in Gladstone. For a time, the little village prospered. In the 1890’s the town employed 1,000 workers. It had a post office, a hotel, at least 2 saloons, a brothel and a population of about 150.