Minnesota is named the "Land of a Thousand Lakes,'' and is perhaps the state with the most water within its borders. Part of Minnesota has the Mississippi River running through it, as well as the St. Croix River. The St. Croix River is in fact a tributary of the Mississippi River.
The river runs 164 miles from Wisconsin to Minnesota, with 123 miles on the state line. It is one of the National Scenic River's that has the protection of the National Park Service. Minnesotans believe in conservation, but also use the water for a hydroelectric plant which supplies Minneapolis- Saint Paul with power.
St. Croix River begins in Wisconsin moving out of Wisconsin's Upper St. Croix Lake in Douglas County. It is located near Solon Springs and is 20 miles from Lake Superior. The river flows south to Gordon before moving in a southwest direction. It is joined by Namekagon River allowing St. Croix River to widen in this area for several miles before meeting the boundary between the states. For another 130 miles it continues through Minnesota before it meets and becomes part of the Mississippi River.
It is just one of the many tributaries that move about in Minnesota. Other tributaries are Kettle, Snake, Sunrise, Apple, Willow, and Kinnickinnic Rivers. In Stillwater, Minnesota the river will widen until it becomes Lake St. Croix. This is again before the tributary makes it into the Mississippi River at Prescott. This is 20 miles south east of St. Paul.
There are only eight rivers that were placed under protection in 1964 by the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. St. Croix River was one of the original to be added to this list. The upper river to the St. Croix Flowage, and downstream 15 miles from the source are protected under the act. The Namekagon River is also part of the St. Croix National Scenic River-way. Another section of the river protected is the Lower St. Croix section with the Dalles of the St. Croix, Interstate Park, and South of St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin.
The river is historically significant, as well as a resource for Saint Paul. It was used by the American Indian tribes for trading and growing wild rice. They used to fish and catch game along the banks. The most notable tribes to use the River were the Ojibwe and Dakota. Fur trading became another important feature of the river. The first Europeans in the area were the Sieur du Lhut and his men. Fur traders spent 80 years hunting beaver pelts and other trappings.
St. Croix River was part of a treaty signed in 1837 by the US and the Ojibwe tribe. In the treaty the government was able to use land in Wisconsin to log and send the logs down through the river to reach the mill. For visitors to Saint Paul a trip along the St. Croix River section in the city can be a scenic and historical driver to take.
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