A Winter Solstice Visit to the Raths Home

The Frederick Raths home sits at the intersection of Radio and Valley Creek in Marsh Creek City Park. Here we give some voice to its silence.

Last August I looked for an outdoor place to do some reading.

There were a number of options in my town. Ultimately, at the corner of Lake Avenue and Radio Drive in Woodbury spoke most convincingly. I drove near it most every day, and the little pioneer house that was its centerpiece always beckoned, but I had never actually been in there.

So, in mid-August I drove in the parking area, got out my folding chair, found a spot and started to read a book, an hour or so at a time.

Several books and two months later I packed up for the winter. But I’ll be back.

The first day I was there, I took several photos, some included in this post.

The site is maintained by the *  and during my times there I watched people from the Society doing this and that, as well as touring (such as one can ‘tour’) the one room house (there is an upstairs, but that is closed to visitors).

The succinct history of the home, provided by the Heritage Society says that it “was built about 1870 as an attachment to the log cabin home of original property owner Frederick Raths. Raths emigrated from Germany in 1853 and purchased the Woodbury property in 1866. This addition was used by the Raths family as a kitchen and living quarters. Over the years, it has also been used as living quarters for farm hands, and as a washing room and utility room.”

As settlers to this area go, Raths was among the earlier arrivals. Minnesota became a state in 1858; the railroad didn’t even reach St. Paul until about 1867. In 1870, St. Paul’s populations was about 20,000, about a third of Woodbury’s current population. St. Paul was Minnesota’s largest city: Minneapolis/St. Anthony together did not equal the population of St. Paul in 1870.

Tours of the house are given in the summer months, but the Raths and other had to live in the dwellings of the time year round. I keep that in mind as I pass near the pioneer house every day.

We romanticize what had to have been an extraordinarily difficult existence for those who came before.

Have a wonderful Christmas.

* – Woodbury (MN) Heritage Society, 8301 Valley Creek Rd, Woodbury MN 55125, 651-714-3564


Dick writes frequently on many topics at www.outsidethewalls.org/blog.  A series of posts on revisiting one's own personal and family heritage can be found beginning at October 5, 2011.  There are five posts in all, all linked, on this topic.

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