Parade Through DowntownChaska: 1769 - 2009
Chaska's history reflects the influence of the Native American culture. The first inhabitants are believed to be the Mound Builders, whose ancient communities are marked by mounds in City Square. Later, the Dakota (commonly known as the Sioux) were the primary nation in this region known as the Big Woods. Although the Indian mounds located in Chaska City Square indicate the immediate area was inhabited years before 1769, that's the year Chaska's recorded history began.

In 1776, Jonathan Carver explored the lands along the Minnesota River and chronicled his journeys. French Canadian fur traders traveled the waterways, trading with the Dakota in the early 1800s. During this time, Jean Baptiste Fairbault established a trading post in Chaska.

Treaty of Traverse des Sioux
In 1851, the Treaty of Traverse des Sioux officially opened Little Rapids, as Chaska was then known, to settlement. Soon after, speculators moved into the new territory. Among the earliest was Thomas Andrew Holmes who, in August of 1851, claimed a 20-acre clearing as the Chaska town-site.

The name Chaska is derived from a Dakota word often given as a name to the first born male child. Records show that David L. Fuller purchased the Shaska town-site from Holmes in 1852. In 1857, the town-site was platted by the Shaska Company. In the same year, construction began on the original Carver County Courthouse located where the post office and First National Bank now stand. Chaska was incorporated as a village in 1871 and, by special legislative charter, as a city in 1891.
An abundance of high quality clay led to the start of brick making in 1857. By the 1880s, as a result of the clay resources, Chaska was a thriving brick manufacturing center. Bricks were shipped by boat to Saint Paul and, although the city grew as a result of steamboat trade, it was not until the Minneapolis and St. Louis Railroad was built through town in 1873 that rapid expansion began.

With the advent of the twentieth century came other industries, including the processing of beet sugar and other agricultural products, flour making, butter making, the canning of peas, corn, and tomatoes, and the curing of sauerkraut and pickles.
Throughout the first half of the century, Chaska's population averaged about 2,000 and the nature of the city remained unchanged. The city retained its small town image until the 1950s when the transition to a metropolitan community began. The expansion of the seven county metropolitan area reached Chaska in the 1960s. With that expansion came the introduction of the Jonathan New Town design concept in 1966. The Jonathan New Town development within Chaska brought new land, new jobs, and new people to the community.

Transition & Expansion
This period of transition and expansion continues today. Dozens of modern industries have located here and continue to do so. Residential construction adds 100 to 300 new homes per year. Commercial business continues to expand offering a variety of retail and service opportunities to its residents. The redevelopment of commercial areas in the downtown began in the 1980s and continued in the 1990s. Although the community has seen much growth, sensible development regulations and sound planning have ensured Chaska's continuing sense of community and the preservation of its rich heritage.

Today, Chaska combines the best of both worlds -- friendly small town and modern city. For a more detailed history, check out the Chaska Historical Context Study by the Chaska Heritage Preservation Commission.