Photo of Swede Henge Hollow in St. Paul, Minnesota

Weekly Gem #107 Down here, you could hide a town in a city

Published 2/25/2017

Location:  This 'hidden gem' is located "down in the hollow," just east of Drewry St, in St. Paul, MN (see Clue Me! Map).  Drewry Street is only 50 feet long, so if you find Drewry, you'll find the tunnel to the henge in the hollow.

While the henge art has appeal in and of itself, it also serves as the doorway to Swede Hollow Park, and that's where your mind's eye kicks in.  Unbeknownst to St. Paul, this hollow held a town of about 500 people for about 100 years from the mid 1800s to the mid 1900s.  At no time was English the primary language, although depending on the decade, you'd do fine with Swedish, Italian, Polish, Gaelic, and Spanish. The residents received no services from St. Paul, and would enter and leave through two or three mostly hidden entrances in the trees. The trees and scrub were so thick around the entire circumference of the hollow that the only way to see the town was to visit it.

Imagine the surprise of the St. Paul Mayor and City Council when they learned that a secret town had existed inside their city for a century! Unfortunately for the town of Swede Hollow, the politicians were not amused, nor were they sympathetic. Rather than turning this into an official neighborhood, they evicted everyone, and their shanty town huts were burned down.

Today's Swede Hollow is a heavily wooded park, a pleasant place to escape the hustle and bustle, with only scant evidence of the old town peeking through the brush here and there. 

But as the sun drops toward the horizon, visitors will often feel a chill, as if the spirit of a former resident has wandered up close to say Hallå.


Here's the hidden gem entry from our Clue Me! map.


Modern henge as you enter (or leave) the hollow


Swede Henge Hollow

Why It's Interesting

This is an artistic 'henge' that has interesting, though perhaps non-functional shadow patterns. Maybe it's a monument to the Swedes, Irish, Poles, Italians, and Mexicans who settled here 'off the grid' between 1850 and the 1950s. The henge is an interesting jumping off point to walk through the hollow, where several hundred people lived in shanties, no plumbing, electricity or other services, all surrounded by the modern St. Paul neighborhood. Out of sight, out of mind.

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