The Dale Street Shops

- Dale Street and Minnehaha Avenue -
(Northeast corner)

The Dale Street Shops were part of a large industrial park, at the northeast corner of Dale Street and Minnehaha Avenue. Built as part of what became the Great Northern Railway, the Dale Street Shops began to take shape in about 1900. The last of the buildings came down in 1999. Most were closed in the1970s and 1980s.

In the late 19th century, railroads and railroad-related industries employed one of every four wage earners in Saint Paul. So it made sense for Hill to expand his railroad shops and put them in Frogtown, a neighborhood with a proven work force.

The Dale Street Shops area had several buildings. Most were made of yellow-tan or red brick. Much of the work that went on in the Dale Street Shops was heavy-duty locomotive repair.

Like the Jackson Street Shops, the Dale Street Shops were a major employment center for Frogtown residents. Many people who grew up in the neighborhood during the early to mid-20th century remember hearing the end-of-day whistle, signaling that workers would be coming home soon.

Although their work was dirty and strenuous, workers for the Great Northern Railway also had fun. They marched in the Saint Paul Winter Carnival parades, wearing striped “blanket coats’ bearing the company logo. They played sports together and looked forward to annual worker picnics and other events. Jobs for the railroad shops were coveted and family members often helped one another get hired there.

The presence of the railroad shops led to other related factories opening in the area.

Through mergers the Great Northern Railway became part of the Burlington Northern Railroad in 1970. It is now the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad.

The 11-acre Saint Paul Port Authority Great Northern Business Park South is now on the old Dale Street Shops site. Great Northern Business Park North is to the north, and includes property where the old Saint Paul Foundry stood.