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June 11, 1921

     St. Croix Falls was only a little village containing chiefly the employees of the company operating the mill located there and was on the east side of the river.  Not long after we reached there a boat came up bringing supplies for winter use. The night after she arrived the men generally got on a big drunk.  They threatened to roll rocks down from the top of the rocky hills on the boat and destroy her, which could have been easily done, unless they were given more drink.  Having been given some and refused more they became ugly and made severe threats but finally compromised on “one more drink.”  They finally lined up and as soon as the first one was served he fell in behind and an endless chain was started which soon exhausted the stock on the boat.  This was another object lesson to me and strengthened the aversion I have always had to the drink habit.

  The warehouse was in a pocket blasted out of the bank, or cliff, and teams could not get down to the front of it.  A tramway or inclined railway, was constructed reaching from the lower to the higher ground and was some one hundred and fifty feet long with a rise of about twenty-five feet and on this a small truck or ear was used to carry the goods up and down. 

  The river at this point is known as the “Dallas of the St. Croix” and is very picturesque and beautiful.  The fall in the river, a little above, is known as Taylor’s Falls from a man of that name who took a claim adjoining.  It is one of the most remarkable sections of the country and I would like to describe it, but that is not in my line.  The power of the water is immense and high motion is everywhere evident.  Take for example the wells in the solid rock which have been ground out large and deep by a hard boulder being forced around and around by the rapid motion of the water.  This section is now (1905) and has been for some years a park and is under the jurisdiction jointly of the states of Minnesota and Wisconsin.  I was there  recently and recognized many places where I had been when a boy sixty-five years ago that were of very great interest to me and are now.  In the Dalles are perpendicular rocks on both sides of the river, some of them two hundred feet high.  On the Wisconsin side near the upper end a rift in the bluff, that looks as though it might once have been a water course contains a great mass of stones from one ten or fifteen tons in weight looking as though dumped therein for some special purpose.  Near by is a beautiful little lake full of fine fish, where at one time the company had a mill.  Not withstanding the great water power here there are practically no industries, a small woolen mill and a grist mill being the only ones in evidence.  Communication with the outer world is no longer by river only, but by two lines of railroad and a fine bridge spans the river between the now two prosperous cities of Taylor’s Falls, Minn., and St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin, both being connected with well built roads leading in all directions through prosperous agricultural communities.  Above Taylor’s Falls there is Tuttle’s Falls and farther up Big Falls and still above a series of rapids some five miles in length.  All there, we understand, are now in the hands of a Power Development Company, with sufficient land on each side of the river, and ere long the entire resources of the St. Croix will be furnishing electricity for power and lights to industries in its valley as well as many outside of its confines.*

  We remained at the falls ten days or two weeks during which time most of the teams and supplies were started into the woods.  When we left we had one team and two batteaux,, long rakish and peculiarly shaped boats sharp and standing high out of the water on each end, and about half a dozen men.  The batteaux were loaded with such supplies as we still needed.  We were to follow along the bank of the river with the team so that we could be together every night as our camp outfit was in the bateaux.  These boats were polled along, except in deep water, and when we came to falls or rapids they were drawn up through the sift water by ropes, three men warping up with the line and one man in the bow of one boat and another in the stern of the other one to keep them off the banks and thus we worked our way along and made about twelve miles the first day.  Just before we went into camp and while going along under a bluff somewhat higher than our heads a large deer sprang over us and into the water closely followed by a big wolf.  The wolf sneaked away and we gave chase to the deer with one of the boats and succeeded in catching him by the tail.  By lifting up his hind quarters his head was put under water and he was drowned before I knew it, and we had fresh meat for the trip.  The offal, however, thoughtlessly thrown out not far from our camp, brought the wolves around that night and it seemed as though they would eat us up.  One team was very much alarmed, but no harm came to us.  The second night we reached the place of an Indian trader named Connor, a Prussian by birth, who had a squaw wife and a half dozen or so half breed children, some of them very nice looking.  The next evening we reached the mouth of Snake river, some sixty-five or seventy miles by river from St. Croix Falls.  Here we met John Morgan, our cook, who was expecting us and had a delicious stew of red squirrels.  There was a warehouse here and we spent the night in it.

  From this point we had to make a portage to the outlet of Cross lake, into what was called lower Snake river.  This meant the unloading of all our stuff and hauling it and the boats the entire distance, as the river is too rapid, from Cross lake to its mouth for navigation, the fall being some fifty feet.

  It took us anyhow two days to make the portage.  Cross lake was some twelve miles in length, north and south, and a mile or so in width.  The outlet of the lake is near the middle on the east side and the upper reach of the Snake river empties into the lake nearly opposite the outlet so that the river practically crosses the lake, hence the name.  On our arrival at the outlet of the lake we took to the water once more with our boats and their loads were not again disturbed until we arrived at camp.

  A short distance up Snake river from Cross lake the river is joined by a snail stream the Indians called Poke----  which a little north, I enlarged into a lake some five mile long and a mile or so wide, of the same name.  About half a mile above the lake and on the same stream our camp was located and we arrived there about a week after we left St. Croix Falls.  At the lower end of Pokegenna Lake was an Indian Mission and just above the – there was an Indian farm that later on was of great value to us in that it furnished us with maple sugar, potatoes and some other much needed articles.


Collected and Transcribed by

Georgeann McClure


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