Thursday, August 30, 2012

Walking in Anoka

On Tuesday I did a 5K in Anoka, Minnesota. I had intended to do a 10K but when I got there I found a lot of street construction going on in the town that made part of the route quite a bit uninteresting. But maybe that's a wrong thing to say - because one of the funny things that happened is that a construction worker asked me if I wanted to put my foot in the wet cement and leave a mark forever!

Anoka, I learned was a border area between the Dakota and Chippewa American Indians. European settlement started in the early 1850s when this became a town, again associated with the lumber industry.

In fact, had the organizers of Wisconsin had their way I would have been walking most of the town in Wisconsin. The original proposed border of Wisconsin was the Rum River which runs through Anoka on its way to the Mississippi. A history I read said the lumber interests prevailed in setting the border further to the east on the St. Croix  (see walking in Stillwater earlier this month) River, reasoning there would be a better chance to "rip off" the timber if this area was a territory rather than a state. Anyway, it was all a grab for the timber in this area.

Anoka now is a small town, about 17,000, but that's hard to comprehend because one just drives from one metropolitan town to the next without ever seeming to leave a city area.

I found the start point after a bit of trouble navigating around the town due to the street construction. The first part of the walk was just back and forth through the business district. I did see some interesting old houses.

One, the Ticknor House is now a bed and breakfast. The front facade of this house is quite imposing, but I like how this turret peaked through the trees better.

A sign along the street said this house was built in 1867.

Then the walk went along to a trail area along the river and it was suddenly more interesting and scenic.

The park along the river is peaceful, too. I walked south for a distance with new town houses being the "land" feature. Then the walk backtracked towards the dam on the river. This part of the walk brought me back to a more historic area where there was an old band shell and people having a morning in the park feeding the ducks.

Finally after passing a foot bridge I found the dam.
A dam was placed here first in the early 1860s for powering lumber mills. Various floods destroyed dams across time. This dam was constructed about 40 years ago. The sluice on the right is reminiscent of the time when the river dam had as many as five sluice running water power to various lumber mills.

At a dock along the river I found interpretive signs explaining that the Rum River is the longest river protected under Minnesota's Wild and Scenic River Act.

The walk then crossed over the business district again to an area called Swede Town, named after the Scandinavian immigrants who first settled there. The houses here are all 20th century, but much smaller than the "lumber baron" part of town. It is obvious this was where the mill workers lived.

I laughed when I saw the people designing the sidewalk simply gave up and let an old tree have its way.

The walk finished back at the coffee shop. When I started out I was so concentrated on signing up right, getting the map, and  deciding whether to do 5 K or 10K that I didn't pay much attention to the coffee shop. When I had finished I ordered a yogurt freeze and sat down to relax. It was then that I realized the Avant Expresso Bar had probably really started its life as a bar. It still had one of those huge long built in bars along the wall.

Probably a place where "everyone knows your name." Check it out if you are ever in Anoka for the beverages and food is quite good.

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