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History of American Towns--In the St. Croix River Valley between Minnesota and Wisconsin including Stillwater, Minnesota

Updated on April 13, 2013

Dalles of St. Croix

public domain picture downloaded from creative commons
public domain picture downloaded from creative commons

St. Croix River

The lower St. Croix River forms the state border between Wisconsin and Minnesota. In 1688 Jean-Batiste-Louise Franquelin recorded a “Fort St. Croix” on a 1688 map. In 1688 or 1689 the name “Riviere de Sainte-Croix”  eventually led to  the current name.

Semi-nomadic Ojibwa, Dakota, and nine other tribes originally occupied the area. By the eighteenth century the Ojibwa and Dakota were the primary tribes in the area until about 1745, when the Dakota were forever driven out of the valley as a result of the Battle of Kathio, according to Wikipedia.

Logging

 The treaty of 1873 of St. Peters  made with the Ojibwa  ceded to the United States government the land that is now north central Wisconsin and east central Minnesota. That opened the region to logging. In the 1840’s important sawmills were started at St. Croix Falls and Marine on the St. Croix. Later Stillwater became a primary destination for lumber.

 During the logging era logs were rafted down the St. Croix River. Because of the narrow gorge and a sharp turn at Angle Rock bad logjams occurred in 1865. Probably the worst in history was in June of that year when at least 150 board feet of logs backed up for three miles. They tried dynamite and tugging with steamboats to move the jam unsuccessfully. A  crew of 175 men working around the clock took six weeks to break up the jam. The logjams had the odd affect of attracting tourists to the Dalles of the St. Croix.

Interstate Park

There are two state parks on the Minnesota-Wisconsin border, both of which are called Interstate State Park. The towns of Taylor Falls, Minnesota and St. Croix, Falls, Wisconsin are next to the parks on either side. The Interstate Park is within the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway and the Ice Age National Scenic Trail is on the Wisconsin side. On the Minnesota side one can see National Park service Rustic style buildings. The parks straddle the Dalles of the St. Croix River. A steamboat service was established at Taylor’s Falls. In 1906 the commissioner of the Minnesota Park arranged for boat tours of the Dalles. These tours are still being made and Taylor Falls was a favorite place to take a short trip and have a picnic when I grew up in Minnesota.

Osceola-St. Paul and Sault Saint Marie Railway depot

Creative attribution share alike 3.0 author Appraiser
Creative attribution share alike 3.0 author Appraiser

Village Hall Marine Historic district

Creative commons attribution share alike 3.0 author Appraiser
Creative commons attribution share alike 3.0 author Appraiser

Osceola, Wisconsin

We sometimes went to this town to do laundry because it was a  very pleasant town. In the 1800's it was a frequent stop for excursion traffic. During may throught October tourists can ride the Osceola and St. Croix valley Railway Excursion.

Marine on St. Croix, Minnesota

 Marine has a population of about 600.It was founded in 1839 as Marine Mills. And it was the site of the first commercial sawmill on the St. Croix River. David Hume, an Illinois lumberman and Lewis Judd built it. It was named after their hometown Marine, Illinois.

 I lived in the rural area of Marine for a winter in the late 1960’s. At that time it still had a general store and maintained much of the original town. There were also a lot of hippies and draft dodgers roaming around the area. On the other hand it was attracting  Yuppie residents.

From a book I read back then I understand that the original Betty Crocker test kitchen was there at one time.

The lower St. Croix River forms the state border between Wisconsin and Minnesota. In 1688 Jean-Batiste-Louise Franquelin recorded a “Fort St. Croix” on a 1688 map. In 1688 or 1689 the name “Riviere de Sainte-Croix”  eventually led to  the current name.

Semi-nomadic Ojibwa, Dakota, and nine other tribes originally occupied the area. By the eighteenth century the Ojibwa and Dakota were the primary tribes in the area until about 1745, when the Dakota were forever driven out of the valley as a result of the Battle of Kathio, according to Wikipedia.

Stillwater Prison at Bayport

Gnu Free documentation license 1.2 Author Elkman
Gnu Free documentation license 1.2 Author Elkman

Stillwater Bridge

public domain
public domain

Stillwater, Minnesota and Bayport

 The tale I ran across about 30 years ago but cannot find now was that there was a mudslide off the river bluffs into the St. Croix which formed a base on which the city of Stillwater is build. It has a population of about 15,000.It is also part of the Twin Cities Metro Area.

 One of the oldest cities in Minnesota it was  incorporated in 1854. In 1853 it was chosen as the location of the Minnesota Territorial Prison, which was opened in 1853.

It is a popular destination for day trips from the twin cities with bookstores, antique shops, restaurants, bed and breakfasts historical sites and the scenic river valley.

The Stillwater Bridge is a vertical lift bridge crossing the St. Croix River. The bridge feeds into downtown Stillwater so traffic often gets backed up. The bridge is on the national historic register but is structurally deficient. A dilemma!

Bayport is about a mile from Stillwater. In 1873 the St. Croix Railway Improvement Company combined three communities into South Stillwater, which was changed to Bayport because of confusion with the City of Stillwater.

The Minnesota Correctional Facility—generally referred to as Stillwater Prison- moved from Stillwater to Bayport in 1914. The Anderson Corporation-home of Anderson windows-is located there. Bayport also has the Bayport Marina. 

Hudson, Wisconsin

creative commons attribution share alike 3.0 unposted author Alexus Heratius
creative commons attribution share alike 3.0 unposted author Alexus Heratius

Hudson, Wisconsisn

Hudson Wisconsin is a growing community. It has been a popular place to live for people from the Twin Cities, Irs population is about 11,800 with many histoic buildings..

In recent years a large shopping area has grown up outside of town whith what seems like all the box stores.


It was originally called Willow River and then Buena Vista by Judge Joel Foster, founder of River Falls, Wisconsin. Alfred day petitioned for the name Hudson because of the similarity between the bluffs along the river and the Hudson River in New York.


As in the rest of these towns the lumber industry was a prime attraction in the 1850s and 1860s. With its Historic downtown it is currently a tourist destination.

Prescott airial view

Prescott, Wisconsin

 

Prescott is an attractive town that I often go through to visit family in Minneapolis. It has a population of 3.764. At one time it had the motherhouse of the Franciscan servants of Jesus.

The Mississippi River and the St. Croix River come together here which makes it a popular place for private boating. It is also part of the metropolitan statically area of the twin cities.

show route and directions
A markertaylor falls,mn -
Taylor Falls Wayside Park, Taylors Falls, MN 55084, USA
get directions

B markerst croix falls, wi -
St Croix Falls, WI, USA
get directions

C markerosceola, wi -
Osceola, WI, USA
get directions

D markermarine on st croix,mn -
Marine on St Croix, MN 55074, USA
get directions

E markerstillwater,mn -
Stillwater, MN, USA
get directions

F markerHudson,wi -
Hudson, WI, USA
get directions

G markerPrescott, WI -
Prescott, WI, USA
get directions

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    • dahoglund profile image
      Author

      Don A. Hoglund 3 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Hi Stella. Although much of this area is becoming obsorbed into the Twin Cities (Minneapolis-St. Paul Metro Area, it is stil scenic and charming. Thank you for taking the time to read the hub and comment on it.

    • ladyguitarpicker profile image

      stella vadakin 3 years ago from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619

      I love Wisconsin just not in the winter, it is beautiful. Liked your hub. A very informative hub. Stella

    • dahoglund profile image
      Author

      Don A. Hoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I hope you enjoy the town and have success in you endeavor.

    • profile image

      Lois 4 years ago

      Coming to Hudson in August...looking for LaBarge descendents.

    • dahoglund profile image
      Author

      Don A. Hoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I grew up in Minneapolis and Taylor Falls was a favorite place to go for rock climbing,boating. It is also a ski area. Hudson has become almost a suburb of the Twin Cities. We now live between the Twin Cities and Milwaukee. Thanks for commenting and the share.

    • Paul Kuehn profile image

      Paul Richard Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      dahoglund,

      This is an extremely interesting hub and I have learned a lot about the St. Croix River Valley. I'm originally from southeastern Wisconsin, but I've never been to the St. Croix area. Voted up and sharing with followers.

    • dahoglund profile image
      Author

      Don A. Hoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I am glad if I have been of help.

    • profile image

      Lois 5 years ago

      Thanks for your help...we found the gravesites.

    • dahoglund profile image
      Author

      Don A. Hoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I do not have that much detailed knowledge of Hudson.I have pasted the address for Hudson's website below.You might also try ancestry.com to trace your relatives.Sorry I cannot be of more help.

      http://www.ci.hudson.wi.us/

    • profile image

      Lois 6 years ago

      How did LaBarge Road get it's name? I am checking to see if Lizzie (who WAS David LaBarge's daughter), the wife of William E. Harrison, may be the same Elizabeth Virginia LaBarge (1874-1949) who was my husband's grandmother.

    • dahoglund profile image
      Author

      Don A. Hoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thanks for reading and commenting.It is sort of regional but nice.

    • nakmeister profile image

      nakmeister 6 years ago from Lancaster, UK

      Really interesting hub, it is not an area I've visited or read about before, but you've piqued my interest.

    • dahoglund profile image
      Author

      Don A. Hoglund 7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Yes there was flooding in some areas. I don't know of any real bad flooding in Rapids.The Wisconsin River is pretty high now, but I was down by the river today to walk the dog and I could see where the waters had come to and how much they receded.According to the news report Pittsville and Rudolph got a lot of flooding.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 7 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Speaking of rivers...how did you fare with the recent floods in Wisconsin? Was thinking of you. Any flooding in Wisconsin Rapids?

    • dahoglund profile image
      Author

      Don A. Hoglund 7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Appreciate your positive input.Thanks for reading.

    • Coolmon2009 profile image

      Coolmon2009 7 years ago from Texas, USA

      Another good hub, good information on St. Croix valley. Rated Thumbs up

    • dahoglund profile image
      Author

      Don A. Hoglund 7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      My father never wanted to travel much and said that there is enough to see in Minnesota.I don't entirely hold to that but in this case it is appropriate.Thanks for commenting.

    • Tamarajo profile image

      Tamarajo 7 years ago

      interesting and informative article. Did not know the history of the St. Croix - Still Water area even though I have been a Minnesotat resident all my life. I did not know that Still Water was considered part of the metro area.

      I also found the log jam story interesting.

      It is a good vacation idea. Always thinking I have to go really far away to find beauty and interest and always surprised to discover it is in my own back yard.

    • dahoglund profile image
      Author

      Don A. Hoglund 7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thank you for stopping by and commenting. Your support is appreciated.

    • creativeone59 profile image

      benny Faye Douglass 7 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

      Thank you dahoglund for all of the valuable and informative information. I didn't know a lot of it, including the terrible log jam. Thank you for sharing. Godspeed. creativeone59

    • dahoglund profile image
      Author

      Don A. Hoglund 7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Vern

      I appreciate your reading and commenting on it.

    • profile image

      Vern Borth 7 years ago

      Interesting description of a beautiful area. Thanks, Don.

    • dahoglund profile image
      Author

      Don A. Hoglund 7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      ahorseback,

      I appreciate your comment.Glad you enjoyed the article.

    • ahorseback profile image

      ahorseback 7 years ago

      Great article , I vote it up and Thank you for sharing this , I can't wait to read more.

    • dahoglund profile image
      Author

      Don A. Hoglund 7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Robwrite

      These elements just happened to be at that time and place.We were renting a place in the country in which the first tenant upstairs was always talking about Canada with a bit of left politics. After him was a couple with two kids with a Econoline with Texas plates who seemed to be on the run,We surmised that he was either dodging the draft or deserted.They also didn't have the foggiest idea what a snow tire was. Later in the spring there were a number of folks around with the hippie "uniform" of the period.

    • dahoglund profile image
      Author

      Don A. Hoglund 7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Peggy W

      It has always been a favorite area for me, although I think Stillwater has become too touristy. My son hs recently moved to Hudson so he could work in the Twin Cities and not leave Wisconsin. Thanks for commenting.

    • Robwrite profile image

      Rob 7 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY

      I've got to give a thumbs up to any hub that can manage to successfully include, logging, Betty Crocker, hippie draft dodgers and Anderson windows.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 7 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Those areas between Wisconsin and Minnesota are so pretty. I'm not familiar with each of these little towns, but know the area in general. Thanks for the detailed information.

    • dahoglund profile image
      Author

      Don A. Hoglund 7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Tom

      I had a book from Marine at one time and I am going by memory, so I cannot swear that it was there. However, by the time Betty Crocker came along the logging days were pretty much over. General Mills is in Minneapolis and had an office in the neighborhood I grew up in. The kitchen is now in golden Valley, which is a suburb of Minneapolis.I was under the impression that the woman who worked as Betty crocker was more or less an independent contractor and probably lived in Marine.Minneapolis used to be known as the Mill City because of the flour mills there.Since I cannot find verification of the Marine location it might be bad memory since I lived out there over thirty years ago.

      eovery,

      Thanks for your comment.

    • eovery profile image

      eovery 7 years ago from MIddle of the Boondocks of Iowa

      Thanks for helping me learn of the history here in the midwest.

      Keep on hubbing!

    • Tom Whitworth profile image

      Tom Whitworth 7 years ago from Moundsville, WV

      dahoglund,

      Thank you for the nice description of the history and some present times in your home area. The scenic photos really elevate this hub.

      I do have a question. How did the Betty Crocker test kitchen come to be located in a logging area?