Russ Hanson of Eureka Township, Wis., working with the Sterling Eureka and Laketown Historical Society, has launched a new map of historic sites in the River Road region, north of St. Croix Falls and south of Grantsburg.
The map already contains more than 160 locations, ranging from homesteads to ferry landings. Russ says he’ll keep adding to it, and welcomes additions.
Russ has been researching and writing about the area for years, including on his blog River Road Ramblings.
Many of the points contain interesting stories from the past two centuries, based on Russ’s extensive research and many stories he has heard firsthand throughout his life and his family’s long residence in the area.
- St Croix River Islands: V. R. Hanson and his brother wintered on the Wisconsin side of the River near here in the 1930s. Some rapids nearby were called the Yellow Pine Rapids. He trapped beaver, mink, muskrats, skunks etc., and described these islands as being honeycombed underneath with old pine logs from the drive days, areas that he could set traps in. He wondered if he whole islands were built from logs holding soil. The depression was on, and folks divided up the river edges for trapping. Furs held good prices — muskrat 60 cents, skunk $1, beaver a few dollars and a mink might bring $10 or $15. That was in the days when a 12 hour work day on a farm might earn you $1 if you could find a job.
- Joseph Renshaw Brown Trading Post: For the winter of 1831-32 former Fort Snelling soldier, then Indian trader, later a politician involved in the beginning of Wisconsin and then Minnesota, had a trading post here. The site was chose as the head of the rapids and so easily accessible by river from the north. It also was near the boundary of Ojibwa to the north and Dakota to the south. Indian agent, Henry Schoolcraft turned down Brown’s request, but when he left on one of his exploratory trips, Brown convinced his temporary replacement to give the permit.
Schoolcraft was upset, both because Brown went around him, and because he had heard Brown was trading liquor to the Indians, and that it brought two warring tribes to the post trade causing problems.In the spring of 1832, Schoolcraft coming up river met Brown coming down river, stopped him and searched for liquor (unsuccessfully) and then went to the post (listed as across from Wolf Creek) and burned the handful of trading cabins Brown had. This was the beginning of a century and a half of liquor being available at Wolf Creek