We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

North Woods River

The St. Croix River in Upper Midwest History

Eileen M. McMahon and Theodore J. Karamanski

Publication Year: 2009

The St. Croix River, the free-flowing boundary between Wisconsin and Minnesota, is a federally protected National Scenic Riverway. The area’s first recorded human inhabitants were the Dakota Indians, whose lands were transformed by fur trade empires and the loggers who called it the “river of pine.” A patchwork of farms, cultivated by immigrants from many countries, followed the cutover forests. Today, the St. Croix River Valley is a tourist haven in the land of sky-blue waters and a peaceful escape for residents of the bustling Minneapolis–St. Paul metropolitan region.
    North Woods River is a thoughtful biography of the river over the course of more than three hundred years. Eileen McMahon and Theodore Karamanski track the river’s social and environmental transformation as newcomers changed the river basin and, in turn, were changed by it. The history of the St. Croix revealed here offers larger lessons about the future management of beautiful and fragile wild waters.

Published by: University of Wisconsin Press


pdf iconDownload PDF (39.4 KB)
pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations

pdf iconDownload PDF (38.8 KB)
pp. ix-x

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (79.0 KB)
pp. xi-xii

It has been a pleasure to get to know this rolling old river. And like anyone else who has had the pleasure of canoeing its serene waters, we would like to thank those people who are responsible for the protection and care of the St. Croix, from the Minnesota and Wisconsin...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (83.0 KB)
pp. 3-9

In 1907 Ray Stannard Baker, a son of St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin, penned an essay titled “The Burden of the Valley of Vision.” At the time, Baker was one of Progressive Era America’s leading “muckraking” journalists. The essay, however, was an elegiac call for urban America to return to nature. In the piece, he...

read more

Chapter 1. Valley of Plenty, River of Conflict

pdf iconDownload PDF (309.1 KB)
pp. 10-72

Moving almost silently through the forest, Little Crow approached the place where he had set one of his steel beaver traps. Through the morning mist the Mdewakanton Sioux leader saw that someone had preceded him to the site. The stranger lifted the trap, heavy with a...

read more

Chapter 2. River of Pine

pdf iconDownload PDF (530.7 KB)
pp. 73-138

For nearly 150 years European and American merchants had passed through the St. Croix Valley, attentive to the number and location of Indians within the valley, mindful of the presence of wild game, sometimes observing its agricultural prospects...

read more

Chapter 3. “The New Land”: Settlement and Agriculture

pdf iconDownload PDF (407.6 KB)
pp. 139-210

The unregulated free market of the logging era left the Lower St. Croix River choked with logs and silt and partially stripped of forests. The Upper St. Croix was a moonscape of a land denuded of much of its flora and fauna. Guilt over this environmental disaster, however, was...

read more

Chapter 4. Up North:The Development of Recreation in the St. Croix Valley

pdf iconDownload PDF (531.7 KB)
pp. 211-278

In 1936 the twenty counties of northwest Wisconsin cooperated in a tourist brochure that promoted the region as “Indian Head Country.” The name was derived from the shape of Wisconsin’s St. Croix borderland that appeared to the imaginative as the silhouette of a human...


pdf iconDownload PDF (145.8 KB)
pp. 279-308


pdf iconDownload PDF (85.6 KB)
pp. 309-322


pdf iconDownload PDF (252.7 KB)
pp. 323-338

E-ISBN-13: 9780299234232
Print-ISBN-13: 9780299234249

Page Count: 338
Publication Year: 2009