Chandler is located in the scenic Chanarambie Valley in western Murray County. It is approximately 25-30 miles from both the South Dakota and Iowa borders. Because of the glacial periods, Chandler is surrounded by some very interesting and unique land formations.
North of Chandler is the famous “Buffalo Ridge”. The tip of the ridge is over 1900 feet above sea level and is one of the highest points in the state. The ridge is the dividing line between the two major watersheds in the country, the Mississippi and Missouri River systems.
Buffalo Ridge was well known by the Sioux Indians. It was undoubtedly a place of religious significance. Early explorers discovered several rock outlines that had been made there by the Indians. Near the summit of the ridge was once an Indian cemetery that was scattered over a mile of ground. At the very tip there still remains an Indian Smoke Pit.
The earliest explorer to document our immediate area was Joseph Nicollet. He was a French scientist that led a government expedition through our area. On June 28, 1838, Nicollet described Buffalo Ridge and Lost Timber in his notes that were later compiled and printed in a book.
Like many towns, Chandler got its start with the coming of the railroad. The Southern Minnesota Railroad completed a line through the area in 1880. A windmill was built there and for years it was the lone edifice on the eastern end of the Chanarambie Valley. Then, in 1886, G.W. Smith surveyed the plat for the town site and a railroad station was built the same year. The first store was owned by Samuel B. Rockey and, when obtainable, eggs sold for 5 cents a dozen. The building had been brought from Iowa and rebuilt here and was located where the Chandler Cafe now stands.
The early settlers of Chandler were predominantly Scandinavian, most of them coming from Fillmore County, Minnesota and the regions around Decorah and New Hampton, Iowa. Around 1908 the Holland people started to come, many from Iowa, but many also directly from the Netherlands.
By the turn of the century, Chandler was called “The Little Queen of the Hills” and was said to have a bright future. Chandler was incorporated in 1902 and the year was also considered a boom year for the town. The bank and a two room schoolhouse were built. A post office was established and construction of a new hotel was begun. The first meeting of the village council was held on April 3, 1902.
The first church in Chandler was the present Lutheran Church. It was organized as the Chandler Union Church and held its first service on March 30, 1893. The Reformed Church started in 1911 and the Christian Reformed Church in 1916.
An air force station was once located south of Chandler. Construction of the base began in 1950 and was completed in 1951. At various times as many as 200 enlisted men were stationed there. The base was closed in the early 1970’s. Today Chandler is a prosperous community of 300 people and 26 business places.