Two large wands of iron anchored in the sand on the bottom of the St. Croix River recently re-appeared, previously unknown to the National Park Service. A friend and I saw it ourselves three years ago for the first time, in the middle of the long straight stretch below Osceola.
At the time, I figured somebody knew what they were. Perhaps somebody does – local knowledge of the river and its history runs deep. But a recent email in my inbox rekindled my curiosity sparked in 2013.
Jesse Hartman of New Brighton sent a photo last week of the same slabs of rusted metal we saw.
“I ran across this yesterday on the river, about 1 mile south of the Osceola boat landing. Do you know what it is? My guess is something to do with an old bridge or steam shovel….. Whatever it is, it’s heavy,” Hartman wrote.
Interestingly, the water levels are quite different between the two occasions. We saw it when the St. Croix Falls Gage was running quite low, around 1,900 cfs. But Jesse reported it on a day the water was nearly twice that flow. Perhaps it is slowly rising from the bottom. (Or maybe the gauge 10 miles upstream doesn’t directly correlate to water levels at the site.)
It was solidly placed when we found it in 2011, either buried deep and covered in waterlogged sand, or connected to something big and heavy. Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway acting superintendent Julie Galonska noted that nobody should try to move such objects.
“They could be considered cultural resources that would be protected under a variety of federal and state laws. Best thing to do is to let NPS know about them. People can call the St Croix River Visitor Center at 715-483-2274. We’ve also recently established a park tip line: 1-800-PARKTIP or 1-800-727-5847. The public can report anything of concern. In emergency situations, dial 911.”
The Park Service plans to mark the object with a buoy to prevent collisions.
Does anybody know what this is? Or want to guess? Feel free to comment or email firstname.lastname@example.org.