Washington Park During the summer of 1868, the Minnesota Valley Railway Company contracted more than 500 people to grade and lay ties and tracks from Kasota to Mankato, reaching Mankato October 3, 1868.
The mainline was known as the "Fourth Street Route" and the railroad yard occupied the Fourth Street right-of-way from Madison Avenue to Mulberry Street. The timber-framed depot was the showcase on this route. This plaque is near the center of the old depot. Directly north of the depot, across Washington Street, was a freight house, a four-stall brick engine house, turntable and a nearby stockyard. A branch line of the Mankato Streetcar Railway Company also provided horse-drawn transportation between the depot grounds and downtown Mankato.
The Minnesota Valley Railway Company would become part of the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis and Omaha Railway Company, locally known as the "Omaha Line." By 1882, it was under control of the Chicago and Northwestern Railway Company, which also served Mankato. On January 13, 1885, Schuler Colfax, former U.S. Vice President and Speaker of the House, was traveling in Mankato, Minnesota. In order to get from the depot on Fourth Street, he had to walk three quarters of a mile in 30 degrees below zero weather. After he arrived at the depot on Fourth Street, he collapsed and died. He is buried in South Bend, Indiana.
(Continued on other side)
Fourth Street Route Depot Grounds
(Continued from other side)
By 1895, four railroads connected with Mankato, making it an important agricultural, commercial and industrial freight transportation hub. At the same time, the railroads also operated 22 passenger trains in and out of Mankato daily, 10 of them making stops at this site.
The Omaha Line decided to abandon its tracks on Fourth Street in favor of a route along the Minnesota River; however, they did not officially vacate the site until March 11, 1912. Washington Park was dedicated in 1915 by City of Mankato officials, citizens and guests.
Blue Earth County Historical Society, 2007.