The small village of Lilydale, named for the lilies that cover Pickerel Lake, was built in a rather unfortunate location, a low-lying floodplain that, well, floods regularly. So many of its residents lived in boats or trailers–it was easier move out of the way when the river began to rise–that Lilydale earned the nickname the City on Wheels. Many of those folks worked at the Twin Cities Brick Company, which churned out bricks for nearly a hundred years beginning in 1894. The bricks, made from Decorah shale quarried from the bluffs above the factory, built much of the Twin Cities, like the St. Paul Hotel. After an especially bad flood in 1965, what was left of Lilydale was moved to the top of the bluff. The old town became a regional park, while the upper section became the new city, populated mostly by townhomes, condos, and apartments with great river views.
Exploring the Area
Lilydale Regional Park (950 Lilydale Rd.; 651.632.5111) sprawls across the lowlands next to the river; the park has the ruins of a brick kiln from the former brick works that was located on this site. In the winter, water seeping from the bluff faces freezes, forming really cool ice waterfalls.
The Mississippi National River and Recreation (651.290.4160) runs for 72 miles through the Twin Cities. While the National Park Service owns very little land along the corridor, it has many programs to help connect people to the river. Visit their website for a complete listing of places to enjoy the river.
See the Twin Cities Overview for tips on festivals, getting around, and more.
Heading downriver? Check out the St. Paul guide.
Heading upriver? Check out Mendota.
© Dean Klinkenberg, 2013