The Ox Cart Trail passed directly in front of these early commercial buildings on Main Street.

The Upton, Martin, and Morrison buildings, on Main Street between Central and Third avenues southeast, give a sense of what St. Anthony looked like while the trail was in use. The Upton building was built in 1855 by Rufus Porter Upton and his brother Moses. It is the oldest commercial masonry building in Minneapolis. The Martin and Morrison Blocks, to the west, were built in 1858. These buildings were originally a pharmacy and a book store.

The Catholic French-Canadian population of St. Anthony, including Métis settlers, expanded. In 1877, a group from St. Anthony of Padua parish purchased and converted a Universalist church in Lower St. Anthony to accommodate its growing congregation, and it became Our Lady of Lourdes Church.

The ox carts probably took different paths through St. Anthony’s busy downtown as it grew and changed, though Main Street was probably the main route.

From this point, travelers on the trail headed away from the riverfront toward today’s University Avenue, and from there southward to downtown St. Paul to sell their cargo of hides, pemmican and handiwork and buy manufactured goods and other supplies to cart back home. After resting several weeks, they rolled through this neighborhood again on their way back to Pembina.



Commentary: Upton Building

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Jacob Croonenberghs autobiographical

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The Upton Block now houses the Aster Cafe and is open daily.