Photos show 1907 canoe trip down the St. Croix River

New images made available by Wisconsin Historical Society show journey made by Milwaukee businessman, photographer, and adventurer Howard Greene.




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Two men watching from the shore as Bill Marr shoots the Kettle Rapids in a canoe. The spectators are sitting on logs. (Photo courtesy Wisconsin Historical Society)
A candid portrait of Howard Greene, who is known to The Gang as Dad. (Photo courtesy Wisconsin Historical Society)

The Wisconsin Historical Society has put 40 images online made by Howard Greene, a Milwaukee businessman who took a trip down the St. Croix River in the early 20th century.

The photos show Greene and his companions exploring what was then considered the edge of the wilderness, starting in Gordon, Wis. and traveling downstream to St. Croix Falls over the course of the month. They witnessed logging drives and Ojibwe people, and paddled the upper river’s rapids.

The St. Croix photos are included in a full collection recently released online, showing images from several trips Greene took around Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan.

“Although he was an amateur photographer, Greene’s informal portraits of people are stunning in their ability to draw the subject out and the viewer in,” the Historical Society says. “Whether photographing fellow campers, old Ojibwe women, or a reclusive fur trapper, he was able to make a strong connection with his subject.”

Images of particular interest include Nevers Dam, the logging-era dam upstream of St. Croix Falls which was ultimately removed in the 1950s, and the ferry at the settlement of Pansy, near the Yellow River and what is now Danbury.

Logging on the St. Croix lasted about seven years after Greene’s trip, and evidence of the industry is seen in several of the photos. Logs on the banks and floating down the river feature in several images, as well as the denuded bluffs.

The photos were donated to the Wisconsin Historical Society by Greene’s descendants. They include several other trips he took in the same era. The images and his journals were published last year by the University of Minnesota Press in a book titled ‘Border Country: The Northwoods Canoe Journals of Howard Greene, 1906–1916.’

Greene served on the Wisconsin Historical Society’s Board of Curators from 1919-1938, and helped edit and publish journals and a biography of some of his well-known ancestors. He founded a wholesale drug company and served in the Spanish American War. He died in 1956.

Thank you to St. Croix 360 reader Matt Thueson for the tip!


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Photos show 1907 canoe trip down the St. Croix River