1880s: A Summer Resort Area
A summer resort area Horace & Harriet Goodrich were some of the first pioneers to settle in Eden Prairie on Staring Lake back in 1867. Horace built a house and a general store south of Pioneer Trail. The Staring Post Office was located in the store. Above the store was the Goodrich Hall. Here, the Grange and other organizations held their meetings. Many parties and social functions also took place in this hall. Horace’s two sons, Fred and John, built large houses on the south side of Staring Lake. John operated his house as a summer hotel for a list of distinguished guests until about 1930. The resort was called Oak Lawn. There were also small cottages to rent.
Vacationers and soldiers from Fort Snelling would come to play croquet in the front yard and spend time on the lake. The Goodrich Hotel was also known for their famous chicken dinners. People would come from all around to spend a day, the weekend, or sometimes longer to relax, swim and fish at the lake. Racks of colored canoes lined the beach on Staring Lake.
Many guests also came by train where Joseph Graham (Old Joe), a horse tender and laborer who worked for the Goodrich family, picked up guests in a “surrey with the fringe top” from the Eden Prairie Depot and took them to the Goodrich Hotel and cottages.
1930s: Seasons on Staring Lake
“Our home was nestled between the Grill home and the Rosendahl farm on Staring Lake.
It’s hard to pick a season that best describes the lake; it was always there to give us beauty, joy and a place to go with friends, family or personal down time whatever the season.
In the Spring, when you could hear the ice breaking up on the Minnesota River, you knew it was time to test the ice for the last time. The ice and snow would melt on Purgatory Creek first, but out from shore by the creek outflow you could make it without crumbling in if you skated fast enough; if you didn’t, just your feet got wet.
Staring was a favorite swimming hole during June and July. It was nature’s cooling system for the farmers after finishing their work for the day. The sandy bottom just to the northeast of Purgatory sloped out gently, which made it safe for all ages. The lake’s location created a great skiing area. I could cut through the back pasture gate and fly down the slope to the lake. There were two trails, the first followed the dirt road and was easier to negotiate; the second went to the crest of the bluff and hurdled down to the lake level. I even had a more gentle trail that I skied on moonlight nights. It went from our icehouse down through the wooded pastures belonging to Pappy Grill. Of course, there were no ski lifts then.
Our house had no electricity, no refrigerator, so every year we made ice on the lake. In deep winter, the ice was 18 to 24 inches thick, which was perfect for making ice. We would clear the snow and cut the ice with a long saw. The blocks were about 18 inches wide and maybe 3 feet long. The ice was hauled to the icehouse using horse-drawn sleds, placed in the icehouse with sawdust around the edges and separating the layers. It generally lasted through the summer: cool hiding place in the summer and a great place to chill the watermelons from Grandpa Page’s fields.”