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Sunday, July 13, 2008

A visit to Taylor's Falls Minnesota

(As always, Click on any photo for a larger picture)

We were hosting a student for the weekend and decided to have a picnic lunch and visit some of the sites at Taylor's Falls. We headed out of the Twin Cities along Interstate 94 to the St. Croix River that forms the border between Minnesota and Wisconsin.

After passing through the bustling town of Stillwater that is always packed with visitors on a summer weekend, we soon arrived at Interstate State Park. This interesting park spans the river and has portions in both Minnesota and Wisconsin.

We stopped off at the southern entrance on the Minnesota side for a picnic lunch before going any farther. Terry and I put hamburgers on the grill. Terry supervised the operations using his chef's skills to determine when they were done (except for mine which I carefully preserved in "rare" condition atop the warming rack) on this fine $9.82 grill from WalMart.

This lower entrance to the park features canoe rentals and we saw plenty of paddlers nearby. You can rent a canoe here for a trip down to Osceola, WI or all the way to William O Brien State Park (about 6-7 hours they say for this one) where you will be shuttled back to your starting point.

After we finished our lunch with some of Linda's great homemade potato salad and a slice of watermelon, we headed up to the northern entrance to the park. If you are not in a hurry, you can walk the mile and a half up to this point along an old logging railroad bed.

This part of the park features rock climbers, hikes through a few of the unique geological features of the area and nice views of the river.

We had come for the stern-wheeler boat tour, so we picked up our tickets and had about forty minutes to wait before departure.

This gave us some time to explore the area near the ticket office. There are some nice historic markers that describe the settlement of the Taylor's Falls area and the logging business that made the St. Croix Valley the center of the lumbering industry in the Minnesota/Wisconsin area for a number of years in the second half of the nineteenth century.

The St. Croix is shallow just upstream from the hundred-foot deep pool where our boat was docked. We saw a couple of kayakers out running through the rocks and practicing their moves.

After the boat tour, we headed into the town of Taylor's Falls. It is easy to miss the town completely if you are just crossing the river on U.S. 8. The town is actually just north of the bridge along MN 95.

There are a couple of interesting places to eat in town. Right downtown is Shoony's Ice Cream and Malt Shop. They have an impressive selection of ice cream and a full "malt shop" menu as well. The building is interesting too. The tin ceiling, brick walls and wooden floor probably have not changed much in a hundred years.

But if you are looking for 1950's and not 1915, just head north to the end of downtown and try The Drive In. Here you will find the burger and fries you have been craving since Scotty's last served up the "fourty-niner" - and they are served by a carhop in a poodle skirt.

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