Prescott, St. Croix meet the Mighty Mississippi


Prescott in Pierce County is at the confluence of the St. Croix River and Mississippi River. It is one of the oldest towns on the Mississippi, dating back to 1839. travelwisconsin.com says, "You can clearly see the line where the blue waters of the St. Croix join the dun-colored Mississippi." Prescott, population about 4,000, is officially a part of the Minneapolis-St Paul-Bloomington MN-WI Metropolitan Statistical Area, with many residents of Prescott commuting to Minneapolis or Saint Paul for employment or education. That said, it is a quaint town with its own Wisconsin personality.

May 9, 2017

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The St. Croix River is a tributary of the Mississippi River with headwaters in Douglas County, near Solon Springs, about 20 miles south of Lake Superior. It flows southwest from its source. In many ways, it is a very fascinating river and we have followed her most of the way. Her source in Solon Springs is especially wild, and her meeting with the Mississippi at Prescott, Wisconsin is a picture of beauty, as you can see in this opening photo; Mississippi on top, St. Croix flowing from the right. August 9, 2015.

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This is a view of the two towers of the old Prescott railroad vertical lift bridge, which is a central feature of where the two rivers meet. It's known as the BNSF railroad lift bridge, BNSF meaning Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway. It is located at the point where the St. Croix River flow into the Mississippi. The far end of the bridge lands on Point Douglas, Minnesota.

One memoir said:

"Growing up, I had many scary memories riding across in a school bus during field trips. I can still remember the tremors and the virtual crawl at which the bus driver crept across. I always had the feeling the driver really would have preferred not to cross the bridge at all."

Below this point the Mississippi forms the border between the two states, above it the St. Croix serves that function. The bridge's top is also known to locals as "Mickey Mouse." Actually, these are sheaths at the top of steel towers that hold the cables used to raise and lower the bridge.

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You are looking through the truss structure of the bridge. That's Minnesota you see on the far side. It is a massive structure. It handles about 40 trains per day. The lift bridge is opened frequently in the summer because of boat traffic.

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There is another bridge about 350 ft. north of the railway bridge that carries auto and truck traffic between Prescott and Point Douglas. It crosses over the St. Croix.

Both bridges are in the downtown area.

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Here you can see a motor boat approaching the railroad bridge. On the far side to the left is the Point Douglas Park on the St. Croix. I'll give Minnesota a plug here: it is a beautiful park. One could easily pass the day here. But bring a lunch, or be prepared to cross the bridge into Prescott to find a restaurant.

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This is another central feature of the town, the Clock Tower. This is what the City of Prescott says about it:

"The original tower, built in 18867, was added to Prescott's 1st brick school. It was an icon in the town until it was destroyed in the 1935 school fire. The 2nd tower was added to the rebuilt school in 1937. This tower stood until 2003 when the School District removed it from the roof of the closed middle school.

"The steel tower, clock, and bell were donated to the Prescott Historical Society. The tower was beyond repair, but the clock was painstakingly restored and temporarily put on display in the Prescott Welcome and Heritage Center. The clock restoration was started in November 2003 and was complete by April 2004.

In 2005, the Prescott Historical Society committed to a construction project to build a new clock tower in Prescott to house this historic clock and bell. The fundraiser was kicked off during Prescott Daze in 2005 and one year later (and over $125,000 in donations), the new tower was unveiled."

Behind the clock tower is the Prescott Welcome and Heritage Center, the sort of red building.

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Perhaps I should have said next to the Clock Tower is the Prescott Welcome and Heritage Center! This is the view from Broad Street, the main street through the town.

Let's take a photo tour of the town itself. As you probably can tell, it was a dark, overcast day, but it was in July.

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I'm walking south on Broad Street. That structure just to the left of the Information Center was built in 1885 and is part of the Prescott Welcome and Heritage Center. To the left of that is the Muddy Waters Bar & Grill and then the St. Croix Realty.

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Roughly across the street are Forever Gifts and Brickyard Pub & Eatery. Forever Gifts is in a building constructed in 1857, among the oldest buildings in town. The wooden name plate at the top of the building reads "Ye Olde Bank Building 1857." It is a boutique, a friendly gathering place for quilters and anyone interested in sewing. It carries a large line of quality fabric, such as Moda, Kaufman, Hoffman, Kaffe Fassett, Clothworks, Shannon cuddle. Forever Gifts also has a wonderful line of gifts. Brickyard Pub & Eatery is a classic American pub and eatery. You can dine on one of two patios or inside a newly refurbished dining room. It offers many signature 1/2 pound burgers and delicious classic sandwiches, and breakfast as well.

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To the left is the No Name Saloon and Monkey Bar. The No Name Saloon was expanded to include the very popular Monkey Bar. The Monkey Bar is a full service outdoor bar with a bit of Tiki style. It features swinging bar stools, outdoor heaters, drink specials, and outdoor entertainment. It carrie a full line of premium and top shelf liquors along with a large selection of domestic and imported beers. The next shop to the right is Eye Candi Eye Candi. It caries a wide assortment of Bling which includes eye-snapping jewelry and ornamented accessories. Th owner will se and put on or take off patches while you wait, and can even get you some great eats. Then to the right of that is Five Stars Chinese Restaurant, offering dining in a marvelous setting and takeout.

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To the far right is Schueller Chiropractic Office. Dr. Schueller is a graduate of Northwestern College of Chiropractic. He provides relief care and wellness care. Next to the left is Cobblestone Gifts. It carries jewelry, scarves, clothing for every season, caldera, collectibles, and dip/scone mixes. One shopper said "The Cobblestone has anything and everything you could think of there. Everything is so unique and collectible. Things like Jams, Scone mixes, Clothing, Purses, Jewelry, Frames, Candles...the list could go on for days." Next to the left comes Magle's General Merchandise, a gift shop. Then in the white building is Twin Fish Boutique, "A cute little shop for chicks." It features women's clothing, accessories, jewelry, essential oils, candles, and gift items. Then finally, in the yellow building is Most Pharmacy, the town's local pharmacy.

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I love it when towns decorate otherwise boring sides of buildings with murals. This is the "Riverboat Mural" of the St. Croix River and a River boat, and adorns the St. Croix Realty building. The Riverboat mural depicts the President. She was originally named Cincinnati. She was built in 1924, and is the only remaining "Western Rivers" style side-wheel river excursion steamboat in the United States. She was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and declared a National Historic Landmark in 1989, but was removed from that list in 2011, because of a "loss of historic integrity." Her home ports have been Cincinnati, Ohio, New Orleans, Louisiana, Vicksburg, Mississippi, St. Louis, Missouri and Davenport, Iowa. However, she currently lies dismantled in St. Elmo, Illinois. Well, she remains a gallant lady in Prescott, Wisconsin.

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The building in the foreground is the Point St. Croix Marina. It is truly at the point of where the St. Croix and Mississippi River meet. If you were to look at Google Earth, you would see Point Douglas, Minnesota, the actual point, right across the St. Croix River from the marina. And you would see the beautiful Wisconsin blue river flowing into the muddy Mississippi. The marina is seasonal a beer and wine bar, Heggies Pizza, and Jumbo broiled shrimp. The marina consists of 74 slips ranging from 10’x20’ up to 14’x36’, as well as jet ski docks. All slips include water and electric as well as fuel discounts. Visitors are welcome to pull in to our 16’X40’ gas dock and fuel up.

In the background are the
Eagle Point Condominiums. Building amenities include an entertainment party room, fitness studio, billiards room, guest suite. It's got a great location overlooking the river.

So that's a quick tour of the town. Here are some photos of the rivers.

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Now isn't this a typical Minnesota photo, taken from Wisconsin! You can see a wonderful motor boat heading up the Mississippi on the left, in Minnesota waters, while a small motor boat, I think, is coming up the St. Croix!

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These boats are berthed at the Prescott Boat Club, which enables you to lease a boat of your choice, 300+ days of the year. Prescott Boat Club at Point St Croix Marina is the Midwest’s only Boating Country Club®. The boat club provides a private access to a diverse fleet of sleek, new boats, fit for any occasion – a laid back fishing trip, an afternoon of skiing and water sports, or a celebration aboard a party pontoon.

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I have to admit I left Prescott by way of the St. Croix Trail S. road in enemy territory, Minnesota! I too this one last look at Prescott from a distance. On this trip, which lasted a few days, I was trying to follow the St. Croix River from start to finish, and I did it! I decided I wanted to get as many photos of the river showing the Wisconsin land on the other side, so operating from Minnesota worked well for quite a while. When I came across a neat town in Wisconsin, I simply crossed over.