Thursday, October 30, 2014

Walking in Stillwater

On Monday, October 27 another lovely autumn day arrived in Minnesota. So I decided to do the walk in Stillwater, MN. I have done this walk once before but that was before I had the Walking the MN Counties book and so I needed to do it again so I could stamp off Washington County.

Stillwater is located in the St. Croix River. This river marks much of the boundary between Minnesota and Wisconsin. The name, St. Croix, appears to have been placed on the river by a mishap. Late in the 17th century a French explorer died near the mouth of the river and a cross was erected in his honor. Thereafter, people began to refer to the river as the one with the cross -- hence St. Croix.

Stillwater is named for the appearance of the river in this area. Here it is very wide and there appears not to be a current moving the water. However, another source says Stillwater is named after Stillwater, Maine. Lumbermen came from there to Minnesota.

Washington County, logically enough, is named for George Washington. However, I didn't know until browsing through my Minnesota Geographic Names books that when the territory of Minnesota was created it was divided into 9 counties. Each of these counties remains to this day, but each is much, much smaller than its original area.That is one thing I like about doing these walks -- I learn things about the places that I walk. And one really learns about a place by walking rather than driving a car through the area.

The walk in Stillwater begins from the Ann Bean Bed and Breakfast. The walk box is kept on the lovely front porch.

In the next block I also found an interesting house, dating from the 19th century.

 The 19th century money in Stillwater came from the lumbering industry.

A few more steps down the street I came to the original Washington County Courthouse.

After about 5 blocks of walking I came to some homes that were a bit more modest, but clearly 19th century in their design. 

Turning a corner I came to a home that had been built in 1865 by a sea captain, sited where it was and designed with a tower on the top -- all so that he could watch the river traffic.

This home appears to be constructed with stones, but it is a wood house. The lumber has been patterned to appear to be stone.

And what could he see? Here's the view:

From this overlook one walks down about 100 steps to the river valley floor.

The first time I did this walk I was puzzled about the water bottles I noticed along the steps. It turns out that some in Stillwater use the steps for exercise going up and down the steps perhaps 10 times. Particularly on warm days, then, water is placed strategically along the steps.

About five minutes of walking brought me to the edge of river and a view of the lift bridge.

I walked to a river side gazebo and sat down for a bit of rest. As I began to walk again I found a monument marking the 1965 flood. This was one of most devastating floods on rivers in the upper Midwest. (The marking on the Mississippi River wall in St. Paul for the 1965 flood leaves one breathless to think the river could have been that high.)

The monument sign by which I was standing explains this is where the river was in 1965 -- a full 19 feet above flood stage. Behind where I was standing a temporary levee was constructed and this protected the business district from the flood waters.

There is a rule in hiking and walking. When one walks down, sooner or later one will have to walk up. The up occurred along 2nd Street on the way to Pioneer Park.

The walk map says to congratulations -- you made it up.

The picture shows my perspective on the lift bridge is entirely different.

From Pioneer Park the walk was through pleasant residential areas. I found one home that was elaborately decorated for Halloween.

 A highlight of this walk is finally getting to a wonderful ice cream shop. But, alas, when I got there I found the sign saying the shop was closed for the season.

So I was back to Ann Bean. The innkeeper was sweeping the porch when I got back and graciously asked me if I had had a nice walk. I thanked them for keeping the walk box.

Then home to find a hair dressing party being put on my granddaughter who lives with me.

Glad to get this walk done and get Washington County marked off. There are plenty of walks I want to do next year so very good to get this one marked off.

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