Gehl's Meat Market
112 West Second Street
Gehl's Market was founded by Charles Gehl in the late 1880s. Turkeys were their specialty, but the family farm in San Francisco Township supplied other livestock. The farmstead is now part of the Carver Rapids Unit in the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge.
Gehl’s regular ”Guess the Animal’s Weight” contests brought in much additional business. On one occasion, Al Engelhardt won a live pig by guessing its actual weight of 194 pounds and 8 ounces! The original meat market was a wood frame butcher shop that was destroyed by fire in 1900. The replacement brick structure had the butcher shop on the first floor and the living quarters for the Gehl family on the second.
Butchering was done at the back of the Gehl building. Charley Gehl owned a pig that almost lived for a full year old as his pet. Sadly, in 1898, it strayed away from the home and made its way to the Minnesota River and fell into the water and drowned. For Gehl, the butcher business was not without other problems. In 1951, the Herald reported that a two-year-old heifer escaped from Gehl’s market and “headed wildly” down the street. The heifer was probably curious about the new Chevrolet that was at the dealership down the street. Chief car salesperson Ed Borak attempted to lasso the heifer. The new Chevrolet was lassoed, but the heifer escaped. Eventually it was cornered in Postmaster Weller’s garage and it was led back to Gehl’s.
Gehl’s market reluctantly closed in August 1963 because a full-time butcher could not be found, although the meat locker remained open until it was taken over by Chaska Packing in January 1965.
By Sarah Carlson