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Home > Burnsville Historical Society and other local efforts > The Landing - reflecting life in the Minnesota River Valley from the 1840s- 1890s. Shakopee MN

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The Landing - Minnesota River Heritage ParkThe Burnsville Historical Society is using photographs we took at the site to reflect the lives of our earliest settlers who first lived in cabins and then farm houses.

Shown is an 1880's one room school at the Landing set near the Village of Eagle Creek. The actual building stood in Shakopee.


"Local schools began in the pioneer days. The first recorded school in Burnsville was conducted in the house of John McCoy in 1856...The following year 1857 marked the formal organization of the entire town of Burnsville into one district. In 1867 a new school building was constructed..." (From Burnsville 76 A Community History page 115).

Each of Burnsville's one room schools would be wooden, as were those in Eagan and Hamilton (Savage). In 1906 Savage built a brick two story school.



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The Landing - Minnesota River Heritage ParkThe Burnsville Historical Society is using photographs we took at the site to reflect the lives of our earliest settlers who first lived in cabins and then farm houses.

Shown is an 1880's one room school at the Landing set near the Village of Eagle Creek. The actual building stood in Shakopee.


"Local schools began in the pioneer days. The first recorded school in Burnsville was conducted in the house of John McCoy in 1856...The following year 1857 marked the formal organization of the entire town of Burnsville into one district. In 1867 a new school building was constructed..." (From Burnsville 76 A Community History page 115).

Each of Burnsville's one room schools would be wooden, as were those in Eagan and Hamilton (Savage). In 1906 Savage built a brick two story school.
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Murphy's Landing 1977A holiday view of Murphy's Landing in Shakopee recreates the looks of the Minnesota Valley in the 1800s. Circa 1977 Burnsville Current.
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Murphy's Landing 1977Students at what was then called Murphy's Landing Shakopee getting water. June 15, 1977 Burnsville Current.

The Landing (formerly Murphy’s Landing) in Shakopeehas dozens of buildings from the late 1800s. The Three Rivers Park district bought in 2002.
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Savage DepotAnother view of the Savage Depot as it looked at the Landing, before being moved back to Savage.
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The Landing - Minnesota River Heritage Park A "newly" built timber barn in Eagle Creek 1890 shows the look of what would be the common place barn in Burnsville. The Burnsville Historical Society is using photographs we took at the site to reflect the homes of our earliest settlers who first lived in cabins and then farm houses.
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A new mission for the Landing 2008July 5. 2008 Minneapolis Star Tribune reports:

The Landing, formerly Murphy's Landing, is in the midst of a makeover that broadens the historical narrative at the Shakopee landmark. - By DAVID PETERSON Star Tribune - July 5, 2008

Murphy is still on all the signs out front. But Murphy's days -- at what most people still know as "Murphy's Landing," the historic village along the Minnesota River -- are numbered.

Officially, it's now the Landing. And, soon enough, once new designs are created, the signs will reflect the change -- one of many quietly taking place at the site as its new owner pours hundreds of thousands of dollars into upgrading it. Even more profound changes are planned in years to come.

The name change reflects a change in the way the village is being seen -- and a step away from seeing white settlement as the defining element of our history, according to Jefferson Spilman, who manages the property for the Three Rivers Parks District.

"We realized that Major Murphy was one person, who only lived here for 20 years," he said. "Native Americans had a village here before he did, and were here for thousands of years. After Murphy, many people lived here. We decided that the river was really the key. 'The Landing' offers a broader way of thinking about human history here. Murphy will remain part of our story, but not the official name."

A big stack of shingles alongside a log home and squat scaffolding down the road are clues to other changes the site has seen since Three Rivers (formerly Hennepin County Parks) bought it from a nonprofit, the Minnesota Valley Restoration Project, in 2002. Buildings were decaying for want of the kind of resources a major operation like Hennepin's can bring to bear.

"Since 2003, we've spent more than $200,000 a year, on average, on rehabilitating buildings out here," Spilman said. "Nearly all of it has been for exteriors. We need to preserve as many as we can, knowing we may get into the interiors later."


“The Landing offers a broader way of thinking about human history here,” said Jefferson Spilman, program coordinator for the Landing.
Kathleen Klehr, executive director of the Scott County Historical Society, which once had a share of the site, applauds the changes.

"This has really been a good deal, on the whole," she said. "Three Rivers is a big organization that knows how to handle parks. In this economy, it's tough for a little piddly guy like us to do that. We've lowered staff numbers already, and that was a huge thing."

The 88-acre, partly wooded site -- between Valleyfair and downtown Shakopee along Hwy. 101 -- was created in 1969 as a living history museum. It has grown to roughly 40 historic buildings, including a church and town hall, with the goal of depicting life.

It's located at the site of what was at the time a major ferry crossing, with Murphy's Inn nearby. While the inn today is just ruined foundations, Three Rivers has cleared it of brush to make it more visible.

The Landing has a paid staff of 30, including seasonal employees and a corps of volunteers. But more funding could mean even more access.
"The buildings are not all accessible, even when we have a lot of interpreters on site," Spilman said. "Some need to be restored, or are reserved for staff, or we just don't have enough people to open all the doors. We try to make at least 15 interiors available on weekends," when usage is greatest.

The site is open weekdays as well, though on one recent weekday most of the guests were members of groups: a Civil War reenactment camp for kids and a day care outing, with kids drinking water from the pump on the town green with the aid of a bonneted interpreter.

Within the next five to 10 years, if approval is granted, there are plans for major changes, including a move of the main parking lot to the opposite end of the long, slender site, closer to the main village cluster, and the construction of an education center and a modern visitor center with gift shop.

"Last year we redid a Victorian house and the general store," Spilman said. "We've been clearing brush away and creating dramatic new views of the river. We finished in February a massive restoration of two barns, costing $350,000, with new shingles and timbers. They now look just like they would have originally.

"Our main goal now is to get people out to see the Landing -- and the Fourth of July would be a perfect time to do that."

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The Landing - Minnesota River Heritage ParkThe Burnsville Historical Society is using photographs we took at the site to reflect the homes of our earliest settlers who first lived in cabins and then farm houses. Shown is a baby crib.
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The Landing - Minnesota River Heritage ParkThe dining area of the one room cabin. The Burnsville Historical Society is using photographs we took at the site to reflect the homes of our earliest settlers who first lived in cabins and then farm houses.
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The Landing - Minnesota River Heritage ParkThis log cabin at the Landing in Shakopee represents the early cabin homes of Burnsville pioneers.
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Cabin at The Landing in Shakopee.The Landing (formerly Murphy’s Landing) in Shakopee has dozens of buildings from the late 1800s including this log cabin, similar to those that stood in Burnsville. The Three Rivers Park District bought this property in 2002.
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The Landing - Minnesota River Heritage ParkWhat looks like a brand new home in the 1880s is actually a log cabin after being "remodeled" before the turn of the century. Wood was placed over the exterior walls with interior walls plastered to update the home.

The Burnsville Historical Society is using photographs we took at the site to reflect the homes of our earliest settlers who first lived in cabins and then farm houses.
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The Landing - Minnesota River Heritage ParkThe Burnsville Historical Society's collection includes only one photo of a log cabin with the Butler sisters of Crystal Lake in front of the structure. We have no interior photos.

The Burnsville Historical Society is using photographs we took at the Landing to reflect the lives of our earliest settlers who first lived in cabins and then farm houses. Shown is the bedroom of Irish Catholic Settlers in their cabin.
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The Landing - Minnesota River Heritage ParkWhat looks like a brand new home in the 1880s is actually a log cabin after being "remodeled" before the turn of the century. Wood was placed over the exterior walls with interior walls plastered to update the home.

The Burnsville Historical Society is using photographs we took at the site to reflect the homes of our earliest settlers who first lived in cabins and then farm houses.
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The Landing - Minnesota River Heritage ParkA view of a complete log farm. The Burnsville Historical Society is using photographs we took at the site to reflect the homes of our earliest settlers who first lived in cabins and then farm houses.
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The Savage Depot while at the LandingThe Savage Railroad depot was moved to what was then known as Murphy's Landing and later returned to Savage. This photo was taken at the Landing.
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The Landing - Minnesota River Heritage ParkThe Burnsville Historical Society is using photographs we took at the site to reflect the homes of our earliest settlers who first lived in cabins and then farm houses.

This resident of Eagle Creek at the Landing near Shakopee represents the women pioneers of Burnsville and the surrounding areas.
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The Landing - Minnesota River Heritage ParkThe Burnsville Historical Society is using photographs we took at the site to reflect the homes of our earliest settlers who first lived in cabins and then farm houses. Shown is an early bedroom.
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The Landing - Minnesota River Heritage ParkThe Burnsville Historical Society is using photographs we took at the site to reflect the homes of our earliest settlers who first lived in cabins and then farm houses. Shown is a typical kitchen of that period.
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The Landing - Minnesota River Heritage ParkThe Burnsville Historical Society is using photographs we took at the site to reflect the lives of our earliest settlers who first lived in cabins and then farm houses. Shown is the road leading from the farms into the Village of Eagle Creek representing the 1880's.


"The first road established in the town (Burnsville) was the old Territorial Road known as the St. Paul and Shakopee Road, opened about 1853. The first town road opened south from the center of Section 15, bearing south-east to Crystal Lake and leaving the town from Section 32, known as the Lakeville and Shakopee Road. (From the Burnsville 76 Community History Book page 3).

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The Landing - Minnesota River Heritage ParkThe land was filled with trees used to build the home/cabin, barn and create the fence needed on the farm.
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The Landing - Minnesota River Heritage ParkThe Burnsville Historical Society is using photographs we took at the site to reflect the lives of our earliest settlers who first lived in cabins and then farm houses.

Shown is an 1880's General Store at the Landing set in the Village of Eagle Creek which is similar to the Berrisford Store in Burnsville. The Berrisford Store was located on the borders of Burnsville (Dakota County) and Hamilton (now Savage in Scott County). When talking with the owner "in character" he said he was well aware of Berrisford's neighboring store.

When the Civil War broke out, Berrisford enlisted with the Third Minnesota, serving with that regiment until the battle of Murfreesboro.

The regiment was later sent back to Minnesota on parole, and upon arriving here was sent out to western Minnesota to help quell the Indian uprising.

In doing so, the regiment participated in the Battle of Wood Lake.

It was after the war that John Berrisford opened a general store in Burnsville, near what is now the junction of Judicial Road and County Road 34.

At the time, this was on the old Shakopee-St. Paul Road, along which much of the horse and wagon traffic of that day travelled.

Nearby, the original St. John the Baptist Catholic Church was located. Thus, this became one of the most strategic locations of the community, serving the residents of Burnsville and also those of Hamilton, now Savage.
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The Landing - Minnesota River Heritage ParkAn informational brochure published 2015 explains the Landing (formerly called Murphy's Landing) in Shakopee.

Experience the excitement and challenges of life along the MInnesota River in the 1800s. Meet the residents of Eagle Creek and people living on the frontier...

The structures and the people at the site are reflective of the pioneers of Burnsville and Hamilton (Savage) during that time period.
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The Landing - Minnesota River Heritage ParkThe interior of the General Store at Eagle Creek.

The Burnsville Historical Society is using photographs we took at the site to reflect the lives of our earliest settlers who first lived in cabins and then farm houses.

Shown is an 1880's General Store at the Landing set in the Village of Eagle Creek which is similar to the Berrisford Store in Burnsville. The Berrisford Store was located on the borders of Burnsville (Dakota County) and Hamilton (now Savage in Scott County). When talking with the owner "in character" he said he was well aware of Berrisford's neighboring store.

When the Civil War broke out, Berrisford enlisted with the Third Minnesota, serving with that regiment until the battle of Murfreesboro.

The regiment was later sent back to Minnesota on parole, and upon arriving here was sent out to western Minnesota to help quell the Indian uprising.

In doing so, the regiment participated in the Battle of Wood Lake.

It was after the war that John Berrisford opened a general store in Burnsville, near what is now the junction of Judicial Road and County Road 34.

At the time, this was on the old Shakopee-St. Paul Road, along which much of the horse and wagon traffic of that day travelled.

Nearby, the original St. John the Baptist Catholic Church was located. Thus, this became one of the most strategic locations of the community, serving the residents of Burnsville and also those of Hamilton, now Savage.
Landing_map_2018.pdf
The Landing - Minnesota River Heritage ParkA map showing the structures at the Landing near Shakopee.

Experience the excitement and challenges of life along the MInnesota River in the 1800s. Meet the residents of Eagle Creek and people living on the frontier...

The structures and the people at the site are reflective of the pioneers of Burnsville and Hamilton (Savage) during that time period.
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The Landing - Minnesota River Heritage ParkA late 1800's kitchen in a typical farmhouse. The Burnsville Historical Society is using photographs we took at the site to reflect the homes of our earliest settlers who first lived in cabins and then farm houses.
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The Landing - Minnesota River Heritage ParkAs if traveling in time, this restored cabin at the Landing near Shakopee reflects the log cabins of Burnsville's early settlers.
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The Landing - Minnesota River Heritage ParkThe Burnsville Historical Society's collection includes only one photo of a log cabin with the Butler sisters of Crystal Lake in front of the structure. We have no interior photos.

The Burnsville Historical Society is using photographs we took at the Landing to reflect the lives of our earliest settlers who first lived in cabins and then farm houses. Shown is the outhouse found at log cabins and early farms in Burnsville.
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The Landing - Minnesota River Heritage ParkThe Burnsville Historical Society is using photographs we took at the Landing to reflect the lives of our earliest settlers who first lived in cabins and then farm houses. Shown is the parlor in an 1890s home.
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The Landing - Minnesota River Heritage ParkThe Burnsville Historical Society is using photographs we took at the Landing to reflect the lives of our earliest settlers who first lived in cabins and then farm houses. Shown is the parlor in an 1890s home.
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