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Home > Neighboring Towns > Savage(formerly Hamilton), Lakeville and Shakopee Minnesota

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Ottawa Avenue in SavageRazors Edge at 12385 is the oldest standing building in Savage, moved from Burnsville around 1902, when it was the Berrisford Store.
Similar photos of this Street from earlier years.
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2020 PandemicSummer Seasonal staff during the 2020 pandemic, City of Savage.
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Savage DepotSavage Depot, summer 2020.
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Egan's picnic grounds - Hidden Valley ParkThe original chimney remains at Hidden Valley Park, initially known as Egan's picnic grounds at the Credit River, in Savage.
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Warren Butler Park 2020Warren Butler Park, Savage.
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The Savage Water towerSavage Water Tower, August 2020, compliments of the City of Savage.
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B P SavageWelcome to Savage, photo 2020.
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Windmill Cafe during pandemicAdditional signage at the Windmill Cafe in Savage. Restaurants can now open during the pandemic with limitations, June, 2020.
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Hidden Valley SavageThe History of Hidden Valley sign, 2020.
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Allen's towingAllen’s Service started in 1958 out of a small gas station with two service bays. As a locally owned and operated towing company, we have over 40 years of experience that we apply to every job. All of our drivers are licensed, bonded, and experienced in operating a tow truck and providing basic car maintenance. We operate a fleet of over twenty late-model flatbeds, wreckers and landoll.

The entire team is dedicated to making your life easier and providing you with unbeatable prices and unmatched services. Our business was awarded American Towman award in 2009.

They operate from two different locations – Savage and Lakeville.
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Spring Valley InnLocated on Highway 101 outside of Savage. July 6, 1972 Dakota County Tribune - profiled the Spur Cafe, Savage. Likely a paid ad.

In 2020 - The Spur Cafe building is still on Highway 13 frontage road in front of Leitchman property. And by the tarp place and Marti's auto.The restaurant is closed but little motel connected and behind is still open & called the "Spring Valley Inn".
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Who owns the square in Savage?February 8, 1959 - MInneapolis Star Tribune - Who owns the square, the village of Savage or George Allen Sr?
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Savage Post OfficeSign above door at the Savage Post Office 1940s.
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Camp SavageCamp Savage: Civilian Conservation Corps, Homeless Men and Nisei soldiers Japanese Language Training Camp - year unknown
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Camp SavageCamp Savage Military Intelligence Service Language School Facility - 1944
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Savage PoliceSavage Police vehicle 2019 - compliments of the City of Savage.
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Dan Patch LanesThe Dan Patch Lanes have closed, its sign in storage.
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Savage Fire DepartmentSavage Fire Department at work 2019. Photo compliments of the City of Savage.
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News story - History: Savage’s notorious past of gambling, gaming and guzzling Virginia Coakley Emerson and Irene Kaufenberg, pictured in 1940 behind the bar in the Kaufenberg Building. The building still stands at the corner of what is now 123rd Street and Ottawa Avenue.

By Jim Ross: Savage Pacer - August 1, 2020

Gambling, gaming and guzzling.

One might first think of Las Vegas when these activities are mentioned, but Vegas was just a train stop from L.A. to Salt Lake City when it was established in 1905.

Reno on the other hand, was founded in 1864 after the prospectors of the early 1800s began mining for gold and silver in northwest Nevada. After a long day’s work, men wanted an evening of whiskey and a chance to get rich even quicker.

Reno became such a hot spot for casino gambling that President Lincoln himself appointed the governor to control the crime and promote a ban on gambling. But Abe soon had bigger battles to fight and the vices firmly took hold.

As the nation spread out and settled in, so too did gambling and drinking. The city of Savage was not to be left out; it would eventually come to be known as “Little Reno.”

In 1902 M.W. Savage, the city’s namesake, purchased Dan Patch, a world record holder and renown standardbred pacer. Savage proceeded to build a massive farm on the banks of the Minnesota River called the Taj Mahal, with stables and his own indoor and outdoor track.

These parts quickly became the epicenter of a racing industry, and wagering came along with it. M.W. was nicknamed “The Parson,” since he would not let Dan race on Sundays. The horse was, after all, an envelope-carrying member of the Methodist Church.

Try as he might, Savage could not prevent the wagering that went on at the track. Once at a race in Toronto, the Board of Control had to threaten to pull the license of the track if it did not cease and desist with the wagering and drinking. The allure of both could not outweigh prevention or prohibition, which started in 1920 and was repealed in 1933.

Both M.W. and Dan died in 1916; the farm was sold in 1919 and promptly fell into disrepair. The stables burned down in 1922.

In 1928, a Minneapolis syndicate headed by O.A. Gray leased the farm and built a grandstand to seat 3,500. For $4,000, the quarter-mile track was equipped with an electronic rabbit and converted to dog racing. Up to 300 greyhounds were housed on site. Locals were hired to exercise the dogs and earned $5 a day.

People from all over the Twin Cities came to bet on the races. The last heat each day on the racing card was called “The Monkey Race,” as monkeys were hitched to the backs of the dogs like jockeys as they raced around the track.

With anti-gambling laws gaining in popularity, the track was shut down. It opened again in 1930, was closed again and re-opened in 1935, it was finally destroyed in 1938. This location is off of Highway 13 and now part of Cargill property, and the racetrack oval can still be seen from the air.

During this same era, members of the Egan family opened up their Picnic Grounds. They created two ski runs on the east side, called Eskimo Hill because it was shaped like an igloo. The runs emptied into a lodge with a massive fireplace. The west side was bordered by the Credit River.

With winter fun and summer picnics, including fishing, horseback riding and swimming in the creek, this was a popular spot year-round. Thanks go to the proprietors for providing adult beverages and you guessed it, illegal slots in the back room. Local yore has it that when the booze was running low, the coins from the slots would be raided to buy more. This area is now Hidden Valley Park, and the original fireplace still stands.

Jennings, Watling, and Caille all manufactured slot machines in those days. Kaufenberg’s Tavern had a Whirlwind in its back room, manufactured by Pierce Tool, which made 37 different machines. When asked about it, the sly reply was “We only sell ice cream here.”

The dope was Kaufenberg served his beer a little warmer, as it created more foam, which meant less actual beer and more profits. Built in 1912, the building still stands at the corner of 123rd Street and Ottawa Avenue.

The most notorious establishment in Savage was the Budweiser Club, catty corner from Kaufenberg’s (Savage’s few city streets once held seven bars yet only one church).

The Budweiser was a popular destination, walls were lined with slot machines and roulette tables and you could also bet on the greyhounds running across the road. The liquor was flowing as well as free lunches. Pretty girls offered change, chips and cigarettes. Cab Calloway was on the radio, followed by Bing, Louie or Glen. Everyone was hustling for a shot at easy money.

So popular was the Budweiser Club in Little Reno that perhaps some of the notorious gangsters, like John Dillinger, Ma Barker’s Gang or Machine Gun Kelly left their protected speakeasies in St. Paul to attend the club. They would leave hangouts like The Hollyhocks Club on Mississippi Boulevard, the Castle Royal at the Wabasha Street Caves, even The Green Lantern in Downtown. Maybe with a moll or a flapper in tow, they made their way south of the river in their Studebaker’s or Chrysler Airflows for their cut of some easy money.

More lore has it that when law enforcement from Shakopee would leave to come check out the club, a call would be made to Savage tipping them off of the impending raid. Slot machines would be hidden in baby buggies and coaster wagons and roulette tables were stored in car trunks and under beds.

One report has the devices heading back to St. Paul, which lends credence to a gangster element. When the authorities arrived, they found all was in order. Before the deputies even got back to headquarters the nefarious activities had begun again. There still may be a basement or two that hides a slot machine, or has a cache of poker chips.

On May 30, 1936, an armed robbery occurred at the Budweiser Club. Three men smashed glasses, ransacked the cash register and hijacked a couple of slot machines.

The Minneapolis police were notified by town marshal George Allen Sr., who also ran a garage. He said he was “too busy repairing a car” to do anything about it. He did however give them the license number of the getaway vehicle and they were subsequently arrested by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension in Iowa. The building eventually became apartments and has since been torn down. The empty lot is on Ottawa between 123rd and 124th Streets.

Gambling now is still just as popular, as evidenced by the success of Canterbury Park’s horse racing and poker operation, Mystic Lake Casino, and Running Aces Casino and Racetrack, which races pacers pulling sulkies and harkens back to the glory days of Dan Patch.

Maybe, just maybe, if you listen close, on a hot summers’ night, as the fog from the river creeps across Mr. Savage’s farm land and into downtown Savage, you will hear Dan’s hoofbeats, the clanging of nickels paying out and feel the full throat burn of the whiskey.

Jim Ross is a board member of the Dan Patch Historical Society. Many obscure references were used for this article and can be found at the Heritage Room of the Savage Public Library. More info at www.danpatch.com.


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Savage City Hall - history displayDuring the summer of 2019 the Dan Patch Historical Society shared photos of Savage's history for the City Hall. Photo compliments of the City of Savage.
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Signage on street lights 2019Putting a few more finishing touches up on Glendale Road. Photo compliments of the City of Savage.
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Signage on street lights 2019Putting a few more finishing touches up on Glendale Road.
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Allen's towingAllen’s Service started in 1958 out of a small gas station with two service bays. As a locally owned and operated towing company, we have over 40 years of experience that we apply to every job. All of our drivers are licensed, bonded, and experienced in operating a tow truck and providing basic car maintenance. We operate a fleet of over twenty late-model flatbeds, wreckers and landoll.

The entire team is dedicated to making your life easier and providing you with unbeatable prices and unmatched services. Our business was awarded American Towman award in 2009.

They operate from two different locations – Savage and Lakeville.
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Savage DepotThe Savage Depot as it looked when moved to Murhpy's Landing Shakopee.
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Savage Baseball teamSavage Pacers old timers game. August 23, 1978 Burnsville Current.
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Glendale CemeteryHamilton and Glendale are today Savage. Within that area of Scott County the Glendale Cemetery served the community. Photo compliments of the City of Savage.
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Emil Oberhoffer home, LakevilleEmil Oberhoffer, founder and first conductor of the Minneapolis Symphony. His house still stands at 17020 Judicial Rd., Lakeville.
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Allen's towingAllen’s Service started in 1958 out of a small gas station with two service bays. As a locally owned and operated towing company, we have over 40 years of experience that we apply to every job. All of our drivers are licensed, bonded, and experienced in operating a tow truck and providing basic car maintenance. We operate a fleet of over twenty late-model flatbeds, wreckers and landoll.

The entire team is dedicated to making your life easier and providing you with unbeatable prices and unmatched services. Our business was awarded American Towman award in 2009.

They operate from two different locations – Savage and Lakeville.
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Savage DepotThe Savage Depot as it looked when moved to Murphy's Landing in Shakopee.
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Downtown LakevilleBefore Burnsville established a high school in 1956, some high school age students, depending on the location of their farm attended Lakeville, Rosemount, Shakopee or even Bloomington for high school.
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