History of Randolph
John Richmond who was the first settler came to the Randolph area in May of 1854. He resided at the current location of the Lakeside Cemetery. In 1858, Randolph was named Richmond for a few months until it was discovered that there was already a town in Minnesota named Richmond. Wheatland was the runner-up but Rice County already had a township with the same name. The town was then named Randolph and was possibly taken from an admired Virginia Statesmen’s named John Randolph. The population of Randolph in 1880 was 144 residents. Today, there are 452 residents.
Near the City of Randolph was a small town called Cascade. The town had a bridge over the Cannon River, dam, flour mill and a black smith shop. In October of 1889, a fire destroyed the town and it was never rebuilt. The Cascades is now Dakota County park land and some of the ruins can still be seen today.
In the early days, Randolph was known as a railroad center. The railroad arrived at Randolph in 1882 and was located on the Cannon Valley Line between Red Wing and Mankato. In 1884, the Minnesota & Northwestern Railroad began construction from St. Paul to the Iowa border. For a long time, Randolph was served by the Chicago Great Western Railroad and the Minneapolis, Northfield & Southern Railroad. A hotel was built in 1922 for railroad crews and the building survives today as an apartment for tenants. Randolph ceased to be a railroad center in the years 1982 & 1984 when the north & south lines were abandoned by the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad.
Randolph’s first school was constructed in 1858 in a log cabin. Not until 1905, the first modern school was constructed and it was two stories tall. This later became the old Saint Mark’s Lutheran church. In 1918, the school relocated to the current site and had only one level. Then in 1924, the second level was added and remained until 2002 when it was demolished to make way for a new school addition. In 1970, the high school was constructed and remains today.
Randolph also had three churches. In the early days, church services were held at houses or in hotels. In 1889, the Methodist church was constructed. Today, this church serves as the Randolph Area Historical Society. In 1925, the Baptist church was moved from outside the city limits into Randolph. This building was demolished in 1987 to make way for a new Baptist church. From 1945 to 1994, Saint Mark’s Lutheran church was located in the old school building and was later demolished. Both Saint Mark’s and the Methodist church relocated outside the city limits of Randolph.
Most people do not realize that south of the current football field to the Cannon River was a large gravel pit operated by Butler Brothers in the early 1900’s. Part of a concrete foundation remains hidden in the woods of the Dakota County park land that belonged to Butler Brothers. Many of the gravel piles and pits are still hidden in the woods.
On June 13th 1930, Randolph was almost completely destroyed by a tornado. One railroad worker was killed when a boxcar landed on top of him. The year before another tornado touched down north of Randolph and done severe damage to farm lands and houses. In 1920, a tornado nearly leveled a nearby town named Castle Rock.
In 1917, Randolph received its fire truck. The original fire station stands today located near the current city park. Today, a 1959 John Bean and a 1974 International fire truck are preserved from Randolph’s Fire Department. For a short time, Randolph had a Police Department in the 1970’s but was too costly to maintain. Randolph had a small jail that was built in 1904 and was moved to the Dakota County Fairgrounds in 1991.
The Randolph Area Historical Society has a sizeable collection for a small town and is dedicated to preserving the rich history of the area.