Eden Valley is a small town located in both Stearns and Meeker counties in Central Minnesota.  The town's population is 1,027 as of the 2020 census.  It can be found along the intersection of Highway 55 and Highway 22.  To help tell the story of Eden Valley I was joined by longtime residents Jim and Mona Haag, Julie Bulau and Nancy McNab.

photo courtesy of Eden Valley Chamber
photo courtesy of Eden Valley Chamber
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Eden Valley was settled in 1886 when the railroad came in.  Jim Haag says there was a settlement just 2 miles east of Eden Valley called Logering that was established in the late 1850s.  He says the people there had a disagreement with the railroad so the stop along the railroad was set where Eden Valley is now instead of in Logering.  The settlement grew due to the railroad and Logering died.  Haag says farm fields are now where Logering once was.  Many businesses began to pop up in Eden Valley including a general store, saloon and blacksmith shop.

photo courtesy of Eden Valley Chamber
photo courtesy of Eden Valley Chamber
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The origin of the name Eden Valley isn't entirely clear but Jim Haag says the location is in a valley and legend has it that when railroad surveyors came in they compared the location to the garden of Eden and the name took hold.  Eden Lake is just north of the community.  The early settlers to the community were New Englanders before an influx of German and Irish settlers arrived.  Haag says the Germans and Irish didn't get along and each established their own Catholic Churches.  Assumption Catholic Church was formed first and was a German Church.  After petitioning the Archbishop in St. Paul the Irish were able to establish an Irish Catholic Church called St. Peter's.  Haag says that existed until 1999 in the Meeker County portion of Eden Valley.

Haag says Eden Valley once had 7 locations for gas, 3 hardware stores, 2 clothing stores and a couple grocery stores.  Julie Bulau says brining back of grocery store would be high on her list of businesses to add.

photo - Jay Caldwell
photo - Jay Caldwell
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The original high school was built in 1927 in Eden Valley.  The original portion still stands today and has been added onto many times.  Haag says there was a wood framed school building in that location from the 1880s to 1927.  Assumption Catholic Church used to have its own school as well but Haag says that closed in the 1970s.

photo - Jay Caldwell
photo - Jay Caldwell
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Jim Haag explained a unique thing about being in two counties came about in the 1950s.  Meeker had been a dry county while Stearns County allowed alcohol.  Haag says on the Stearns County portion of the community they had 3 bars and a liquor store.  Jim recalls a flood of people from Meeker county coming to the bars on the Stearns County side of Eden Valley on weekends.

Mona Haag contends that Eden Valley is still a farm community but the amount of farms are less but the ones that do exist are larger.  She feels people who live in and around the community have other options now due to the internet and work from home options.

Elvera 'PepsNeuman is a famous person from Eden Valley and known by some as "the Blanket Lady" for your involvement with Gopher sporting events.  Peps graduated from Eden Valley in 1962 long before girls basketball was offered as a high school sport.  She participated in girls athletic recreation (GAA) and was known for scoring 40 to 50 points a game.  She went to play for the Arkansas Jazz and Arkansas Lassies.  Those were professional teams that played all over the country including against the Harlem Globetrotters.

photo courtesy of Eden Valley-Watkins High School
photo courtesy of Eden Valley-Watkins High School
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Eden Valley-Watkins has also had lots of success in high school sports which includes a long history of state tournament appearances in girls basketball, recent success in football, boys basketball and baseball.

The community gets together each year for Valley Days, which is the 4th weekend in June.  This year it will be celebrated June 20-23.  The festival consists of a food court, parade, car and tractor shows, just to name a few.

If you'd like to listen to my 2-part conversation with Jim, Mona, Julie and Nancy it is available below.

 

 

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