Carver, Minnesota, (population 1,900) is located 12 miles upstream from St. Paul and at the center of two segments of the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. The city was founded in 1852.
Carver’s location at the intersection of the Minnesota River and Carver Creek made it a vibrant early commercial steamboat hub and a jumping off point for pioneer settlers in the Minnesota River Valley and surrounding areas.
In 1871 the railroad arrived at Carver, ushering in the end to Carver’s steamboat era, but providing yet another means for economic and cultural vitality. As railroads reached more distant destinations, Carver’s era as a bustling boomtown gradually declined, and the town fell into a long period of isolated stagnation. But many of Carver’s historic buildings survived, and the 1960s saw the beginning of their historic renovation.
In 1980 most of Carver’s old core city was incorporated into the Carver Historic District and was placed on the Minnesota State Register of Historic Places as well as the National Register of
Historic Places. The Carver Historic District includes some 90 buildings and structures, most dating to the 19th century.
Recently, the Church-by-the-River, a former Presbyterian church built in 1913, was restored through the efforts of the city and the Carver Lions Club. The building now serves as the venue for city council and commission meetings as well as for a wide range of civic activities. An archive of historic Carver photographs is displayed in the building.
Carver publishes self-guided walking tours of its Historic District. The town holds Carver Steamboat Days every September to celebrate the city’s 19th century river town heritage. A December holiday homes tour takes visitors through many of the Historic District homes.
Designated a Preserve America Community in July 2007.