A Love Affair with Brick
It is impossible to consider the city's history without a discussion of Chaska brick. Though certainly other Minnesota cities held some brickyards (including Moorhead, St. Cloud, Minneapolis, and nearby Carver), none were as closely identified with the industry. Brickmaking defines Chaska in the same way that granite does St. Cloud, tourism does Brainerd, or beer does Milwaukee. It is indeed the central identifying historic context for the community.
The location of the Chaska settlement led directly to its success in the brickmaking industry. The townsite was established on top of a very rich and deep alluvial clay deposit, formed as part of massive glacial melting around 10,000 B.C. The deposits in Chaska consisted of a layer of yellow clay over a layer of blue clay, both rich in sandy deposits and in finely ground silica, which gives the slight sparkle to the brick. The vein was very accessible, and it was deeper than most — considered inexhaustible during the late 1800s — though in actuality it ran 20-45 feet deep.
The Aesthetic Character of Chaska Brick
Though so many factors were in place for the creation of Chaska brick, it would not have become a major industry without a substantial demand for the product. Chaska brick became incredibly popular not just because of its quality and ease of use, but in particular because of its distinctive appearance and coloration. This brick has been likened to Milwaukee brick, but often described as "creamier," more natural in tone, and with more variation in color. Though buff-colored brick was indeed made in other locations and even nationally, none has achieved the strong place-association or relative fame as Chaska brick.