Discover: From Rec Hall to Outdoor Center

The Staring Lake Outdoor Center has a long history that began with the State Emergency Relief Association (SERA) in 1935. SERA was an organization similar to the Works Progress Administration (WPA). However, it was state funded, instead of federally funded. During the depression, the WPA and SERA hired people to build, among other things, trails. A group of men working to build trails in the Minnesota River Valley petitioned the State of Minnesota for funds to construct a building, which could be used as a recreation hall. What they received was a number of used telephone poles and manpower to build the structure, supplied by the National Youth Association.

In 1945, Clarence Bush, who worked for Northrup, King and Co., purchased the building and moved it to the property he owned on Staring Lake.  Bush used the cabin for a place to sleep when he when he worked late, instead of driving back into the city.  In 1977, the city of Eden Prairie developed the land around Staring Lake into a park.  They removed all the buildings except for the cabin.
Today, the cabin is being used as an interpretive nature center and observatory. Over 400 kids use the building for summer camps and more than 6,000 school children are privy to environmental education.  In addition, astronomy programs are conducted each month. The building is open 10 a.m.-noon Saturdays.

— Wendy Petersen Biorn
Executive Director, Carver County Historical Society