History of Downtown Hastings, Minnesota


     The name of the city was drawn from a hat, but its location was not chosen by accident. The four partners that made the claim for this townsite in 1851 were veterans of the fur trade with a practiced eye for the best locations in the territory. Alexis Bailly, his son Henry G. Bailly, Alexander Faribault and Henry Hastings Sibley knew Oliver's Grove from their American Fur Company days. US Army Lieutenant W. G. Oliver commanded a detachment guarding supplies here in the winter of 1819/20. The boats were stopped by low water on their to Fort St. Anthony, later named Fort Snelling. Oliver left his name on a grove of trees where they camped.

    This area was not opened to settlement until 1851. In order to make and keep a claim, a shelter had to be built and occupied. Henry G. Bailly built  a cabin, under the rights of his license to trade, at Oliver's Grove in 1850. The claim was surveyed in 1853 and the partners each put a name in the hat; Hastings was drawn!
    In January, 1856, the population of Hastings was 650 people; one year later it was nearly 2,000. Hastings was incorporated by the Territorial Legislature and named the seat of Dakota County
in 1857.

The Levee on First Street between Ramsey and Sibley, about 1860.

The first large buildings were constructed of local limestone. Logs floated to a stream sawmill beside the Mississippi were turned to lumber for small frame houses and shops that soon lined First, Second and Third Streets from Bailly to Ashland.

  The Spiral Bridge was built in 1895. It owed its unique design to the desire of downtown businesses to bring traffic down on Second Street, rather than over it. 
Meloy Park, under the spiral, was named for John C. Meloy, a former Mayor and partner in the Gardner & Meloy Elevator, who sold the lot for the bridge approach for one dollar.
When the bridge was torn down in 1951, the lot reverted to his heirs and was purchased by the American Legion.

Photo and text courtesy of Hastings Historic Handbook

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