National Park Service Hosting Arcola Mills Open House in October

Arcola Mills

What a great find.  The National Park Service is hosting an open house at the historic Arcola Mills site on the St. Croix River north of Stillwater through October 30.

Driving south from Marine back toward Stillwater I noticed a new sign pointing to a scenic view of the river on the Arcola Trail.  I often take that route when heading south to Stillwater anyway, so I turned in to check it out.  I had no idea what to expect.  As far as I knew there is no place along the Arcola Trail that could have been turned into a place for a public river view.

But I didn’t know about the Arcola Mills Historic Foundation.

I have been driving by the site for years and never paid enough attention to even wonder what was down the road.  Many years ago — before my time, in fact — my family had river property here and I have poked around some hoping to find some lost sign from the past.  So it isn’t as if I haven’t been looking around.

And I know the Arcola Mills site from the river, but have only seen it a few times that way.  Out of site and out of mind.  Perhaps until now it really hasn’t been marked well.  I don’t know.  Whatever the case, I’m grateful for the cooperation between the park service and the foundation.  Go check it out.

St. Croix Boom Site Junk Dump

My visit today was a welcomed break in an ok day.  Earlier I stopped at the St. Croix Boom Site just north of Stillwater to make some calls and finish some paper work.  I like to get out the lawn chair and take in some fresh air for those tasks.  I noticed someone had decided to dump some of his junk there since I was last there yesterday.  I’m sure it all looked just as nice in his front yard or wherever it was being stored.  I’m not sure why it had to be moved.  But there it is.

I drove north then to see a client or two.  This also gives me an excuse for stopping at the general store in Marine for a sandwich.  I also loiter a bit.  I like the town and hope maybe I’ll end up there if I if I give the place enough chances to claim me.

The sky was growing very dark and stormy; brief bursts of gusty winds signaled an early October storm rolling in so I loitered a bit longer.  My phone was in the car so I missed the chance to share pictures of the sky, but it was that very deep slate blue kind of sky that always means business.

When I got back in the car and headed south I drove slowly, much like old men do, watching the leaves fall in dense waves on the highway.  In fact I think I took extra notice of the new sign because I was puttering along a bit more slowly than my usual leisurely pace.  Needless to say — I’ve already told you — the sign caught my eye.  A new view of the river isn’t something to be missed.  I had to check it out.

I pulled in and parked in the wrong spot first, but this wasn’t without its thrills.  The wind was kicking up more and thunder added more to the wonderful weather.  I managed to work myself up a little, too.  Recall the opening scene of Night of the Living Dead when Johnnie and Barbara are leaving flowers in a remote cemetery…a storm rises up and a zombie appears.

River View from Arcola Mills.

The weather today felt precisely that way.  I was certain zombies were in the woods.  (I won’t say anything about the legend of the ghostly woman seeking her lover on the bridge a mile down the road.)  So I headed for the big white house (naturally) for both its historic significance and safety.

(Of course I am referring to the 1968 Romero original Night of the Living Dead…It felt like that today.  I don’t care for the remakes…the last remake I tried was Willy Wonka.  My fault.  I should have known…)

So about that big white house.  It is indeed historically significant and would be awfully cool even if it were not.  I snapped a few quick photos before the storm arrived and I’m afraid I did not frame them well.  Plus…as I like to point out…I’m only using a camera phone.    The people at the Arcola Mills Historic Foundation have some good photos on their site.  Take a look at those.

In fact, check out the links I have posted here.  If you enjoy the history of the St. Croix River Valley — as you should — then you should really take advantage of this free public access t0 the site.  Good people there will guide you through some of the area’s history, too.

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