Jens Caspersen

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Looking Back 30 Years from the Burnsville Current of October 24, 1983 by Jim Bayer

Jens Caspersen
A chilly breeze mixed with stray raindrops didn't spoil Jens Caspersen's day beneath the busy Cedar Avenue Freeway Wednesday afternoon.

Caspersen, 76, of Burnsville, greeted each well- wisher with a smile and a firm handshake. For this was the dedication day of the Jens Caspersen Landing, a recreational outpost only a few feet east and straight down from a major transportation-link created for a growing metropolitan area. For Caspersen, Dakota County's representative to the Lower Minnesota River Watershed since 1959, it has been a goal to combine progress (read development) and the preservation of valuable waterways.

Jens Caspersen
So, when the Watershed decided to donate money to the Department of Natural Resources to build a public boat landing on the Minnesota River, it did so with the stipulation that it be named for Caspersen. The DNR readily agreed.

City, county and state officials gathered Wednesday in the cold and wet to congratulate Caspersen and to officially dedicate the new Jens Caspersen landing, which is located in Burnsville, only a few feet from the Eagan border. The landing is accessible from Silver Bell Road west from Highway 13 and is almost directly under the freeway bridge.

Paved parking space is provided for about 40 vehicles, with access to the river provided by a concrete apron that disappears into the water. A dedication plaque which tells visitors about Caspersen is mounted on a large chunk of sculpted rock, placed in the center of a circle driveway. Jens Caspersen was born in 1907 in Skaade-Aaus, Denmark. He came to the United States in1928, able to speak only a few words of English. The story goes that Caspersen rode a train from New York to Minneapolis, eating only ham and eggs the entire way because those were the only words he knew.

Long-time residents remember Caspersen as owner of the Embassy, which he purchased in 1948 and sold in 1965. The Embassy was located west of Interstate 35W near Cliff Road. It was destroyed by fire.

He also worked as a rancher in South Dakota, a farmer and a milkman during his early years. DNR Commissioner Joe Alexander made a brief keynote speech Wednesday standing atop a concrete traffic bump and presented Caspersen with a State Parks sticker.

Eleanor Caspersen, Jens' wife of 45 years held firmly onto a champagne bottle and confidently sent it crashing into the rock monument. She took a mock sip of the bubbly liquid as it splashed about, a smile on her face. And Jens Caspersen stood before the plaque bearing his name and told everyone how thankful he was. "It's maybe the biggest honor I ever thought I would have,” he said.