Canoeists stranded by high water on upper St. Croix

Campers and counselors from a summer camp had to be rescued by authorities after swamping canoes Thursday night.

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On Thursday, St. Croix 360 reported that extremely high water on the very upper St. Croix River had created dangerous conditions for canoeists. The National Park Service was recommending no travel on the river above Riverside Landing, near the town of Danbury, WI and the confluence with the Namekagon.

It has now been reported that a group of canoeists ran into trouble on the river Thursday night, and had to be rescued by the sheriff’s department, according to the Duluth News Tribune:

Fourteen teenagers and young adults and two counselors on a canoe trip were rescued early this morning after some of their canoes overturned and they became stranded on riverbanks of the St. Croix River in Northwestern Wisconsin on Thursday night.

In a news release, Burnett County Chief Deputy Scott M. Burns said the female campers and their counselors were stranded about one mile south of CCC Bridge Landing in the Town of Blaine, about 50 miles south of Duluth.

The Sheriff’s Office received a call for help at 8:49 p.m. A hovercraft and boats were used for the rescue, which was not completed until 1:40 a.m.

The campers, ages 15-20, and their counselors were from YMCA Camp St. Croix in Hudson, Wis., and had begun the planned overnight canoe trip from the Schoen Park Landing in Douglas County earlier in the day. They encountered high water and fast currents on the river, causing several of the canoes to swamp, the news release said.

As the high water — the result of heavy rain on Tuesday night — has moved downstream, conditions have become dangerous all the way down to Wild River State Park, near North Branch.

According to river gauge data from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, water levels near Grantsburg, WI spiked up to 11 feet from less than 5 feet in the past few days:

River gauge graph showing water level spike in August 2011


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3 responses to “Canoeists stranded by high water on upper St. Croix”

  1. Jeffrey Willius Avatar

    High water, darkness and inexperience: a recipe for disaster! Glad everyone’s all right.

  2. Jerry Avatar

    The river water level is on it’s way down.  It’s at 5′ 6″ today at the physical gauge at the Hwy 70 Bridge.  This gauge usually reads about 1 foot lower than the USACE on-line gauge at Norway Point north of Grantsburg WI.  I consider “Normal” water level at the Hwy 70 Bridge to be between 3′ 6″ to 4′.  The level of 5′ 6″, while above normal, makes for very excellent paddling.  Hope this gets the word out.  For verification, please contact Branda Thwaits of the National Park Service once again.

    Jerry Dorff
    Wild River Outfitters
    Grantsburg, WI 54840
    715-463-2254

    1.  Avatar
      Anonymous

      Thanks for the updated info! Please feel free to share river conditions whenever you like.

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Canoeists stranded by high water on upper St. Croix