Known initially as Stump Town—which is simply not flattering—not much happened until early settlers Alex Ramsey and Joseph Orr arrived around 1836. Richard Ray joined the party around 1837, thence came Newton Ray and the area became known as Ray’s Landing. In 1850, Marcus Hayes operated a horse-powered ferry to Guttenberg. A steam ferry began operating in 1856, but the boiler exploded in its first year of operation; it was soon replaced with a new boat. The name Glen Haven name was apparently first used in 1856. According to one story, the name was suggested by a Scottish immigrant, George Burroughs, after other residents tried to name the town Burroughsville in his honor. He wasn’t too keen on their idea—maybe he was just modest—so they let him pick another name. Shortly after Glen Haven was platted in 1857, a steam sawmill was built and the town grew to an impressive 30 buildings. But, economic conditions changed and by 1859, many of the town’s buildings sat empty.
Slowly the town bounced back as it grew into an important shipping point for stock and produce. The railroad arrived in 1884 and granted the town some economic security through the rest of the 19th century; it was one of the largest shipping points for livestock between St. Paul and Chicago. Glen Haven’s role as a transportation hub ended in the early 20th century when trucks took much of the freight business from railroads. The construction of the lock and dam system ended Glen Haven’s close ties with Guttenberg as ferries stopped running and the ice was no longer safe for winter crossings. Glen Haven lost much of its population in the ensuing years and relied mostly on a farm-based economy. In 2004, the village had fewer than 100 residents.
Read about the tragic murder of Glen Haven resident Catherine Jordan here.