Gladstone Savanna

About Gladstone Savanna

Gladstone Savanna is rich with history. Venture past the cottonwoods into the heart of the preserve and you can almost hear the hissing and clanking of the trains as they pulled into the Gladstone shops for repair. This was once the hub of the Lost City of Gladstone.

The last building on the site was removed by 1979. But if you look carefully, glimpses of the site’s former glory are evident: a grand old bur oak spreads its branches over a nursery of younger oaks; patches of grey-headed coneflower, blazing star, and purple prairie clover bloom in summer, and majestic cottonwoods create a cathedral-like canopy and provide relief from the summer sun.

Gladstone Savanna Improvements

In 2011 Maplewood developed and approved a master plan (PDF) for Gladstone Savanna Neighborhood Preserve and Gloster Park. The plan integrates the site’s railroad history, soil remediation, stormwater management, natural resources, and passive and active (playground) recreation.

Phase I

Phase I improvements at the site began in 2012 with brush removal, grading, remediation of contaminated soil, installation of stormwater basins and trails, and prairie seeding.

Phase II

Phase II improvements are scheduled for 2015 and will be conducted in conjunction with street improvements. Projects at the savanna will include: landscaping at four entries, trails along Frost and English, street parking along Frost, planting of the storm basins. 
Future projects at the site will include adding a play area, additional landscaping and tree planting, and interpretation of historic and natural resources.

Prairie Restoration

On July 1st and 2nd 2014, contractor Minnesota Native Landscapes seeded the prairie on all areas that were disturbed for soil remediation or storm basins. Download the seeding plan (PDF). In September, they contractor planted native prairie flowers in a portion of the seeded area to increase the diversity of native plants. The seeding plan is available here. It typically takes 3 to 5 years for a prairie to begin looking like a prairie. These areas will be mowed a few times in 2015.

In 2015, the contractor will do a bit of management on the grassland areas that were not disturbed. Activities will likely include: prescribed burn, spot treatment of invasive plants, and fall overseeding of these areas with native prairie seeds.

Brush and Tree Removal

Additional brush and selective tree removal was done in January 2014 to accomplish the goals of the master plan. The woods in the southwest and south central portion of the site are not being restored at this time.

In the 2014 brush removal areas, the contractor removed the following:
  • Non-native invasive shrubs including buckthorn and honeysuckle
  • Small cottonwood trees (No large cottonwood trees were removed in this phase)
  • Selected boxelder and ash trees
  • Siberian elm trees (A non-native invasive tree)
In addition, the contractor cut some sumac and brambles but these will not be treated and will grow back. The “oak nursery” at the northwest corner of the savanna was thinned out to promote better growth of remaining oaks and to ensure enough sunlight reaches the ground to achieve the oak savanna plant community the master plan calls for in this area.

Archeological and Historical Information

This site was once home to the Gladstone Shops of the St. Paul and Duluth Railroad and included a roundhouse and repair shops. Download historic photos (PDF) of the site. In 2012, the city conducted archeological investigations at Gladstone Savanna. These studies help document the site’s history and provide data from professionals that can help build a case for registering the site as a historical site, should the city wish to do so in the future.

Archeo-physics was contracted to use ground-penetrating radar to determine whether there are foundations and debris under the soil surface. This is a non-invasive technology using instrumentation on the surface and does not require exposing the foundations. The crew surveyed approximately 3 acres and found foundations or debris in several areas. Review their results. This study was made possible by the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

Summit Envirosolutions conducted an archeological investigation documenting all foundations and debris that were exposed or on the soil surface during Phase I improvements.


  • Terrain and Trails: The site has bituminous trails
  • Acreage: 23 acres
  • Location: The preserve is located at the southwest corner of Frost and English
  • Entrances: On Frost, on English, at corner of Frank and Frisbee
  • Parking: At Flicek park or street parking in the neighborhood
  • Facilities: There are no restrooms or drinking water at the preserve