Did you know it existed? Can you remember a time when it was actually populated by pioneers?

Some of you reading this may already know about Forestville, but I didn't until 2017. What attracted me to the area was the idea of exploring a cave. I had no idea it was its own ghost town too!

Historic Forestville via Facebook
Historic Forestville via Facebook

In April 1854, after a surveyor platted out a townsite in the valley, residents Henry Fitch and William Renslow renamed the Watertown settlement Forestville. The townsite had 66-foot-wide streets, 27 blocks, and lots for houses measuring 132 x 66 feet. A public square equivalent in size to one block was set in the middle of the plat.

William Meighen went into partnership with his childhood friend Major Foster in 1855 and soon owned a hotel that Foster had built, named the Fremont House.

Next to it they built a more permanent brick store and house in which Felix Meighen's family lived after completion in 1857. In this house they raised seven children: Susanna, Catherine, Joseph, Maria, Thomas, Eliza Jane, and Martha. Forestville boomed.

The store prospered for many years, with business slowing after the initial rush of immigrants moved past Forestville or left to fight in the Civil War along with other Minnesota recruits who camped there for a brief time in 1864.

So was it the Civil War that brought Forestville down? Not quite. It's also explained, "When the Southern Minnesota Railroad bypassed Forestville in 1868, many merchants and farm families started to leave the town. The slow post-Civil War economy also led people to seek more prosperous towns and agricultural centers." The townspeople simply needed other options.

How much of this did you know!? Have you explored Forestville yet?

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