The Village of Golden Valley was incorporated Dec 16, 1886. During its early years, Golden Valley was an agricultural community of only a few hundred residents, full of farms, mills, and dairies. Residential development began after the Electric Luce Line Railroad was cut through the village in 1912.
Between 1910 and 1940, Golden Valley's population increased from 692 to 2,040. More residential development followed industry's discovery of Golden Valley after World War II, and the village continued to grow. It became a city in 1972.
A video history of Golden Valley ("Celebrate Golden Valley"), produced in 2003 by Curtis Laine of Studio 23, is available for purchase through the Golden Valley Historical Society.
How Golden Valley Got Its Name
Was it daffodils or wheat? The story of how Golden Valley got its name has several variations; however, references to grain outnumber those to wildflowers.
The most recent explanation, published in 1986, cites daffodils as the inspiration. According to Golden Valley: A History of a Minnesota City, 1886-1986, the city was named by William Varner, one of the area's first settlers. Upon arriving at St Anthony Falls in 1854, Varner headed west to find a home site and eventually came upon "a hill so high that he thought it was a mountain. He climbed the hill and looking down he could see the whole valley lush and green dotted with golden daffodils. In the distance he could see a lake shining in the sunlight and he said, 'This is my valley, my Golden Valley.' " That hill, now much eroded by nature and humans, is currently home to the Golden Valley Country Club.
Backtrack to May 29, 1958. An unattributed article in the Suburban Press claimed the name Golden Valley "came about because of the yellow of the cowslips, goldenrod, and sunflowers which covered the hills in 1852 when the first pioneers settled in the valley." As soon as he read that article, 75-year-old Robert Moser, lifelong resident and son of early homesteader Carl Moser, called the paper to set the record straight. He said "it was wheat, acres of it glimmering in a summer sun, that put the word 'golden' in Golden Valley."
Moser's family arrived in the area in 1853, followed a year later by the Varners. Within a few years, other settlers arrived and turned the prairie land into wheat fields. Moser says that William Varner, looking out over those fields from his hilltop homestead, observed: "this is truly a golden valley," and the name stuck.
Fast forward to June 1970, and another variation. Midwest Planning and Research, a consulting firm that used to do most of the City's big planning reports, prepared a document entitled "Historical Background and Statistics of Golden Valley." According to that report, the origin of the name Golden Valley is somewhat obscure. "Various stories concerning the naming of the Village do not bear close scrutiny in view of the physical situation of the Village in the 1880s. The most plausible account of the naming of the Village holds that the name came from Irish immigrants who settled in the area. Wishing to retain some reminder of Ireland, they named the Village 'Golden Valley' after the Golden Vale of Shannon, a portion of the Shannon River Valley in western Ireland."
Golden Valley Turns 125
Golden Valley celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2011...