Minneapolis, St. Paul, Rochester and Dubuque Electric Traction Company (Signed by Marion W. Savage)
Intricately engraved antique bond certificate from the Minneapolis, St. Paul, Rochester and Dubuque Electric Traction Company dating back to the 1910's. This document, which has been signed by the company President (Marion Savage) and Secretary, was printed by the Monarch Litho. Co. of Minneapolis and measures approximately 12 1/2" (w) by 9" (h).
The certificate's vignette features the horse Dan Patch inside a winged horseshoe, topped with a crown.
Marion W. Savage, owner of the race horse, Dan Patch, planned an electric railroad that would connect the Twin Cities to his farm and stables south of the Minnesota River. The savvy Savage purchased Dan Patch for $62,000 — a fortune in 1902 — and then lavishly pampered and promoted his equine protégé.
Savage and his backers chose 54th and Nicollet, at the time the Richfield-Minneapolis border, as the starting point for the new railroad. Minneapolis' Nicollet streetcar line ended at that spot, so passengers could easily transfer to the adjacent Dan Patch system. Its owners named their new firm the Minneapolis, St. Paul, Rochester and Dubuque Electric Traction Company, but no one used the full name. Instead, they preferred the nickname "Dan Patch Line." Construction began in 1908, eventually reaching Northfield in late 1910. Grading began on an extension to Faribault in 1911, but the company never secured an entrance into Faribault and abandoned the project.
The new railroad built four stations in Richfield, with platforms along the Nicollet Avenue corridor – on the Bachman's farmstead spur at 62nd, Goodspeed's farmstead at 66th, Irwin's farmstead on 72nd and Wilson's farmstead on the southwest corner of 78th. They also completed a company-developed picnic destination named Antlers Park, now part of the Lakeville city park system. Richfield gardeners and farmers used the Dan Patch railroad for shipping produce, dairy products and other goods. Passengers shared the platforms with farmers.
Original plans called for the Dan Patch Line to be electrified, but that concept never became reality. The company used steam engines for their freight trains, while gas-electric locomotives and motorcars handled passenger traffic. However, Savage's penchant for first-class style did produce luxurious coaches – red, plush seat cushions and fringed shades on windows added a touch of Victorian elegance.
Management struggled to make the rail route profitable without consistent success. According to some reports, the railroad had an abysmal operating ratio of 147%. However, it persisted in operation until, less than a week after the sudden deaths of the horse Dan Patch and his owner, Colonel Savage, it slumped into receivership on July 16, 1916.
Four days after the bankruptcy, Charles P. Bratnober (president of the Minneapolis, Anoka and Cuyuna Range Railroad) was appointed receiver. The Minneapolis, Northfield and Southern Railroad, incorporated during June 1918 in South Dakota, bought what was left of Savage's former company at foreclosure on August 6, 1918. The new owners promoted the Dan Patch's route from Northfield to Minneapolis, and successfully marketed the reconstituted railroad as a bridge line around the congested Twin Cities freight yards.
Marion W. Savage
Promotion wizard Marion Willis Savage, called by his contemporaries "the second P.T, Barnum", made the name Dan Patch a household word.
His lifelong fascination with horses began when he was a driver on Dr. Savage's sick calls. His early skill with horses was saluted by an Iowa liveryman: "I'd trust that kid with our most spirited horses, day or night." (Savage's story is told in Fred A. Sasse's colorful "The Dan Patch Story").
M.W. Savage married in 1881 and was an Iowa farmer until the floods ruined his crops. However, his real career was begun when he began clerking in a West Liberty drug store. Observing the local farmers stock food and drug purchases, Will decided to manufacture the supplies himself. He formed a partnership with a supposed friend who soon made off with their funds, leaving 27 year old Will Savage almost penniless.
So in 1886 Savage sought a new start in Minnesota. Minneapolis had become the center of expanding dairy, farming and livestock industries. Also in the Twin Cities could be found experts (including feed chemists) at the State Agriculture College and experiment stations. Starting in a small stock food manufacturing plant and utilizing the local scientists, he startled the business community in a few years with the purchase of the huge Exposition Building on the river in Minneapolis.
There he centered his International Stock Food company which soon had affiliated plants in Toronto and in Memphis, and overseas in Scotland, Ireland, England, France, Germany and even in Czarist Russia! In Europe, as in America, Savage drummed into farmers' awareness his catchy slogan, "Three feeds for one cent." With his growing wealth, and to satisfy a long cherished ambition to breed champion horses. Will Savage purchased (in about 1895) 750 acres of choice farmland 18 miles southwest of Minneapolis on the Minnesota River near Hamilton — later renamed Savage in his honor. On his estate he built extensive stables, two race tracks (one completely enclosed!) and began buying race horses - among them was Dan Patch.
That name came to mean, as Sasse reports, "the epitome of excellence, the superlative of greatness, the zenith of equine superiority." This in a day when to all Americans the horse was king. Named with the first name of his first owner and the last name of his sire (Joe Patchen), the famed horse was foaled in 1896 in Indiana. He began his racing career as a four year old in 1900.
Praised for his calm, noble spirit, and gentleness, as well as his racing potential, the pacer was acquired in 1902 by Savage who said, "Dan Patch at $60,000 was the cheapest horse I ever bought and he has paid for himself inside three years and could not be purchased of me for $180,000, which I was offered." Dan's previous owner had paid $20,000 for him in 1901, and no other pacer had brought half the $60,000 paid by Savage.
Dan Patch had become such a consistent winner in this country and in Canada that after 1902 no other stables would race their horses against the big mahogany bay stallion. So the sportsman who was to sell Dan to Mr. Savage decided in Mr. Sasse's words "to put Dan's leg muscles against the unbeatable phantom horse —the watch. There was nothing else to do".
Dan Patch's career peaked during the racing seasons of 1905-1906. At Lexington, Kentucky, on October 5, 1905, he set his fastest officially recognized mile record. The local paper commented on the horse's pacing of the mile in the sensational time of 1 minute and 55 1/4 seconds: "Never before in the annals of light harness achievement has such magic speed been attained on any track, and deep was the impression made on those who witnessed it."
At the Minnesota State Fair track on September 8, 1906, before an enthusiastic crowd of over 90,000 people Dan Patch made harness horse history. He paced the mile in the fastest time of his career at the previously unheard of time of 1:55. Crowds welcomed Dan in downtown Minneapolis and a jubilant M.W. Savage, always the showman, renamed his firm as the Dan Patch 1:55 Stock Farm Food Company. Somewhere the three moving picture films made about then of Dan Patch racing may still exist.
In 1907 the problem of how to directly link his stock farm at Savage and his business centers in Minneapolis led M.W. Savage to take over the projected Minneapolis, St. Paul, Rochester and Dubuque Electric Traction Company which he renamed the Dan Patch Electric Line.
The famed horse made his last racing appearance on November 25, 1909, at New Orleans. He died July 11, 1916, 20 years old, and with a heart that weighed 9 pounds 2 ounces, as compared with the normal heart of five pounds. Dan had taken sick on July 4th, as had his master, M.W. Savage. Upon being informed of his favorite horse's illness Mr. Savage's own condition worsened and he died just 32 hours after his favorite stallion.