Dan Patch And Owatonna
Recognized as one of the greatest race horses of all time, Dan Patch got his start in Indiana but made his mark in Minnesota. There are several connections between Dan and Owatonna. I have an old Photo News from September of 1947. The front page contains pictures and a story that portions of the upcoming Dan Patch movie were going to be shot at the Steele County fairgrounds. It also states that footage was going to be shot in Hutchinson and the State Fairgrounds. There was a call for some 400 extras to sign up to be a part of the movie. It also mentions that a couple of Dan's descendants were going to play their father in the movie. If you find the time to check out the racing footage, it doesn't appear to show anything that resembles the Steele County Fairgrounds. In fact in numerous scenes it looks to be mountains in the back ground.
Check it out here.
The movie came out in 1949. Are there any old timers that can recall what happened? Did they shoot the footage and then replace it? Or perhaps they called the whole thing off when they found a more appropriate setting for the race scenes?
Here's another Owatonna connection. This article refers to an Otto Gilbertson of Owatonna being called upon to shoe Dan.
The horse's popularity also transformed into something known as the Dan Patch line. It was the name given to a stretch of railroad track running from the Cities down to Faribault. There were plans to extend the line down to Owatonna but supposedly due to trouble with some Faribault residences and their reluctance to give permission to cross their property it never came about as far as reach down to Owatonna. This was in the 1915-16 period of time. This rail line was significant as most trains in the real old days ran on coal, wood or steam. This line was said to be the first to run on electricity and gas. These didn't last too long and soon were replaced by diesel.