This is the story of Maple Plain and Independence township. Pupils in the Maple Plain elementary school have inquired how our town happened to be here. We shall try to answer that question and how it has grown to its present size and continues to attract families to build homes here because they, too, feel that this is a good place to live.
Some of the reasons for its continued growth are the physical attractions of the area, with good soil, many trees, rolling hills and valleys, green meadows, productive farms and beautiful lakes for the enjoyment of all. Add to this, friendly hospitable people, good schools and many churches, excellent roads and highways connecting us with nearby towns and two large cities where many find profitable employment. Others own their own businesses and new and large companies are locating here, giving employment to an increasingly large number of people.
Now we shall go back briefly to a period many thousands of years ago called the ice age. Glaciers covered all of Canada and much of the northern part of the United States. They moved slowly southward, slipping along by the force of their own weight, finally yielding to the hot southern sun, letting fall, as they melted, the soil, mixed with rocks and boulders, burying to a depth of several hundred feet the empty gorge that had once been a great river valley. In other places thousands of lakes were formed by water settling in depressions. Thus was formed what now is our land of ten thousand lakes.
History records that the soil was of the richest character, the black fertile soil of our Maple Plain area. There was no vegetation, no fish, no animals small or large. But as time went on, seeds were blown in on the warm south winds and there grew in the warm soil plants of many kinds and, also, trees. Along the streams grew those that loved the water, alders, willows and cottonwood. Others were balsam, fir, tamarack, spruce and cedar; then the big pines, Jack pine, white pine and the pink-barked Norway pine. Soon the hardy hardwoods predominated. There were elm, oak, basswood, ironwood and the majestic maples with their breath-taking fall coloring, from which Maple Plain got its name. Many maples were more than a hundred feet tall to the awe and delight of the first white men to view them as they explored the' Big Woods, a rectangular hardwood forest, dropping down into prairie land. This woods was estimated to have been forty miles wide and one hundred miles long, almost exactly equidistant from the equator and the North Pole.
When the first settlers arrived in this vast area which was organized as Minnesota Territory in 1849, they found that the red men, mostly the Dakotas, often called the Sioux, had been here long before them; making homes or teepees, conical tents covered with skins of animals, wherever the hunting was good and the fish plentiful. Here the Indians found everything needful for their existence. There were deer, black bear, rabbits, fox, mink, raccoon, beaver and muskrat. Sometimes they roamed to the west where feeding on the prairie grass were great herds of bison. In the woods were birds large and small, ducks, partridge, wild turkey and the great Canada goose.
Their sons learned to hunt at an early age. The squaws did the major part of the work and prepared the skins of animals for clothing. They, with the children, hunted for berries, cherries, plums, edible plants and bulbs. Wild rice was very plentiful. Later the white settlers added many of these things to their scanty diet, often little more than salt pork, corn pone, and milk if they were lucky enough to have a cow.