The narrow strip of land between the St. Croix and Mississippi Rivers known today as Point Douglas Park was once a bustling community built around the logging business. All that remains of that community today is a single Greek Revival home from the 1840s.
The point of land between the two rivers was an early favorite for settlers. Joseph Monjeau built a log home in 1838, and others quickly followed. The village of Point Douglas was platted in 1849 and named after the Illinois senator and rival to Abraham Lincoln, Stephen A. Douglas, for his role creating the Minnesota Territory. A small community developed that became a supply point for steamboats passing through. Its major industry was milling, though. The first sawmill opened in 1851, but it was the Dudley Mill that grew into the major operator. In the peak years (1871-1889), the mills was designed so that whole logs could enter from the St. Croix River via a conveyor and exit the mill on the Mississippi as cut lumber for loading onto steamboats. When the lumber industry declined in the late 19th century, Point Douglas faded into oblivion.
Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center (12805 St. Croix Trail; 651.437.4359) is a serene preserve about one mile north of the River Road. It has several walking trails through restored ecosystems (grasslands, oak savanna, etc.) and an overlook of the St. Croix River. The interpretive center showcases animals while they are still alive instead of the usual display of stuffed ones (bald eagle, peregrine falcon, redtail hawk).
Sports and Recreation
There are swimming beaches at Point Douglas Park (free) and St. Croix Bluffs Regional Park (10191 St. Croix Trail South; daily fee).
St. Croix Bluffs Regional Park (10191 St. Croix Trail South; 651.430.8240; open late April–Oct.) has a large campground in an area shaded by tall pine trees. The sites are reasonably far apart. This is a popular campground that fills up on weekends, sometimes weeks in advance; call first to find out what’s available.
Heading upriver? Check out Cottage Grove.
Heading downriver? Check out Prescott.
© Dean Klinkenberg, 2011
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