St. Croix River Valley
The St. Croix River Valley has been many things to many people. Abundant environmental resources and the river's use as efficient transportation have made the region the scene for life, conflict, commerce, political dispute, and recreation.
For its first historic inhabitants, the Dakota, the valley provided valuable hunting grounds, wild rice, and other resources. By the 18th century, Ojibwe people were also living in the region. The valley would later become the site of bitter warfare between the two tribes.
During the 18th and early 19th centuries a succession of French, British, and American fur trade companies came to the area to trade with its inhabitants. By 1820, however, the valley's beaver population was severely depleted and trade eventually ended.
In 1837, the United States negotiated treaties with the Ojibwe and the Dakota for the wedge of land between the St. Croix and Mississippi Rivers. Ratification of the treaties opened the land for settlement by non-Indians. Commercial logging of the abundant white pine became the region's primary industry. Land in the area also began being sold for agricultural purposes to settlers from a variety of ethnic backgrounds.
The river was the source of political dispute when Wisconsin became a state in 1848. The decision to use the river as a boundary between Wisconsin and the neighboring territory (which would later become Minnesota) was difficult for many residents who felt the river connected them economically and otherwise.
By the 1850s tourism to the scenic river valley was being promoted. In 1895 Interstate Park was established, helping to preserve a portion of the valley. Other conservation efforts in the 20th century helped make the parks, river towns, and lakes of the region into popular recreation destinations. In 1968, the federal government designated the St. Croix as one of the original eight rivers protected under the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.
Get Started With Secondary Sources
- North Woods River: The St. Croix River in Upper Midwest History, Eileen M. McMahon and Theodore J. Karamanski.
Madison, Wis.: University of Wisconsin Press, c2009.
MHS call number: F587.S14 M35 2009.
- Some Sources for St. Croix Valley History, by Theodore Christian Blegen.
In Minnesota History. Vol. 17, no. 4 (1936): pp. 385-395.
MHS call number: F601.5 .M66 v. 17:4, or view an electronic version of the article (PDF).
- The St. Croix: Midwest Border River, by James Taylor Dunn.
St. Paul, Minn.: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1979. Reprint of 1965 edition.
MHS call number: Reading Room F614.S26 D8 1979.
- History of the Saint Croix Valley, editor in chief, Augustus B. Easton.
Chicago: H.C. Cooper, Jr. & Co., 1909.
MHS call number: Reading Room F614.S26 H6 1909
- Fifty Years in the Northwest, by William H.C. Folsom.
St. Paul, Minn.: Pioneer Press Co., 1888.
MHS call number: Reading Room F606.F67
- Who Owns a River?: A Story of Environmental Action, by Wendy Wriston Adamson.
Minneapolis: Dillon Press, 1977.
MHS call number: GB1225.M6 A32
- George Nelson Reminiscences.
Reminiscences of Nelson, an employee of Parker, Gerrard & Company and the North West Company. From 1802 to 1832 he worked for them in the regions of Grand Portage, the St. Croix River, Lower Red River, Winnipeg, and Fort William. Also contains a published description of the Nelson papers in the Metropolitan Toronto Library, with some biographical details.
MHS call number: M115 for microfilm; For typed version with notes from the editors Reading Room F601.5 .M66 v.28:1-3, or view electronic versions (PDF) of Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.
- W. H. C. Folsom and Family Papers, 1817-1900.
Correspondence, diaries, scrapbooks, clippings, financial papers, and miscellany concerning William Henry Carman Folsom, a Taylors Falls businessman, historian, and Minnesota legislator; the family of his wife, Mary Jane Wyman Folsom; their sons, Wyman X. and Frank W.; and other family members.
MHS call number: A/.F670; See the green Manuscripts Alpha Notebooks—filed under Folsom, W. H. C.—for a detailed list of boxes and locator numbers (there are 9 boxes, 1 folder, and 2 reserve items), or use an electronic version of the inventory.
- Choice Farming Land in the St. Croix Valley, Polk County, Wisconsin: for Sale to Settlers by Caleb Cushing
1875 booklet advertising land for sale in the St. Croix Valley. Booklet includes information about populations, soil type, agriculture, etc. Also includes two maps of the area.
MHS call number: F587.P7 G4 1875
- Albert C. Stuntz Diary, 1858, 1863-1865, 1867-1869, 1882.
Diaries kept by this surveyor in the Lake Superior area of northwestern Wisconsin, in the St. Croix River Valley, and in Wisconsin lumber camps. Included is information about land surveys and acquisition in Wisconsin and Minnesota; about lumbering practices; and accounts of trips from Bayfield, Wisconsin to St. Paul, Minnesota. Includes entries when Stuntz was a Wisconsin state assemblyman.
MHS call number: M611 (there is 1 reel of microfilm).
- F. Weyerhaeuser and Company Records, 1892-1940.
Correspondence; agreements, contracts, and other land and legal papers; annual statements; log accounts; tax records; articles of incorporation; and other papers of Weyerhaeuser and Company and associated lumbering and lumber products companies.
MHS call number: P983; See the green Manuscripts Alpha Notebooks—filed under P983—for a detailed list of boxes and locator numbers (there are 14 boxes and 1 oversize item).
- Interviews with Pioneer Lumbermen, compiled by Forest History Society.
Transcripts (typewritten carbon copies) of interviews between pioneer lumbermen and relatives of lumbermen of the Upper Midwest and members of the Forest History Society staff.
MHS call number: p2385; See the green Manuscripts Alpha Notebooks—filed under p2385—for a detailed list of boxes and locator numbers (there is 1 box containing 16 items), or use an electronic version of the inventory.
- John Runk Film Collection.
The bulk of the collection includes film footage shot in and around Stillwater, Minn. and the St. Croix River. Views include the 1952 flood, boating, fishing, Washington County fair, Lowell Park and Engine #328 in Stillwater, the construction of Hooley’s Supermarket, the razing of the Union Depot in Stillwater and construction work at the Stillwater sewage treatment plant.
MHS call number: See the blue Sound and Visual Notebooks—filed under III.310 —for a detailed list of reels and locator numbers (there are 28 film reels), or use an electronic version of the inventory.
- St. Croix River Association Records, 1917-1988.
Records consist of correspondence, minutes, reports, newspaper clippings, copies of press releases, and other miscellaneous papers documenting the organization, which was concerned with conservation of the St. Croix River area.
MHS call number: A/.H431; See the green Manuscripts Alpha Notebooks—filed under Saint Croix River Association—for a detailed list of boxes and locator numbers (there are 2 boxes), or use an electronic version of the inventory.
- William T. Boutwell Papers.
A copy of a diary kept on Henry R. Schoolcraft’s expedition to the source of the Mississippi River in 1832 and throughout Boutwell’s residence as missionary to the Ojibwe at Leech Lake; rough notes made by J. Fletcher Williams at the time of an interview with Boutwell and reminiscent of the latter’s life as a missionary; two autobiographical articles by Boutwell; a letter received from his father-in-law, Ramsay Crooks, in 1836; and photostats of two letters written by Boutwell in 1832, the originals of which are in the possession of La Forest C. Parkhurst of Stillwater.
MHS call number: P2528; See the green Manuscripts Alpha Notebooks—filed under P2528 —for a detailed list of boxes and locator numbers (there is 1 box).
- James Taylor Dunn and Family Papers.
Personal and family papers created and collected by librarian and local historian James Taylor Dunn, his family, and others. Dunn's papers document his lifelong interest in the St. Croix River and valley, as well as several other areas of historical research.
MHS call number: See the green Manuscripts Alpha Notebooks—filed under Dunn, James Taylor—for a detailed list of boxes and locator numbers (there are 37 boxes, but not all material relates to this topic), or use an electronic version of the inventory.
- Hastings: Gazette
- Hudson (WI): Star-Observer
- River Falls (WI): Journal
- Saint Croix Falls (WI): Standard Press
- Stillwater: Gazette
- Stillwater: Messenger
- Taylors Falls: Journal
- Visual Resources Database subjects that may be useful for this topic:
- Check the library catalog for other materials.