The steady progress of opening the Arcola Mills historic site to the public continues, with a significant leap in 2013. The May Township board recently approved a plan to open the river-side property between May and October this year.
The site was initially opened to the public for the month of October in 2011, and again for September and October 2012.
The Country Messenger reports that the six-month stint is seen as a final step toward possibly making the site open permanently:
In 2013, the Visitors Center will operate May 6 through October 25, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Monday. It would be closed to the public Tuesdays and Wednesdays — a change from previous years’ trials.
Park Ranger Jonathan Moore said the change from seven days to five was in response to visitor counts, which showed a decrease in visitors on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
As in past years’ trials, the visitors center will be staffed by volunteers and one Park Ranger during hours of operation.
The big concern continues to be traffic on Arcola Trail, which is narrow and gravel for most of its length, and used primarily by residents.
Arcola Mills’ entrance is located near the north end of the road, and visitors are encouraged to travel to the site via Highway 95 and the short stretch of the trail, rather than from the south, all the way up Arcola Trail.
The Park Service is going to ask the Minnesota Department of Transportation about the possibility of adding a sign on Highway 95 at the south end of Arcola Trail directing drivers to continue on the highway to the north entrance.
The site’s closest neighbor told the township board, as reported by the Messenger, “I think it’s an asset and I would strongly support the National Park Service being there. I think it’s a great way to educate people about the river and how to be good stewards of the community and to respect it.”
Arcola Mills features an 1847 mansion built by lumber-business brothers John and Martin Mower. At the time, it was the hub of small logging village at the site. The site today includes the house and other buildings, including the original lumber mill.