is about 30 minutes from Minneapolis at the confluence of
the Mississippi and St. Croix Rivers in Western Wisconsin.
It offers a small town atmosphere, unique shops, a bit of
American "river town" history, lots of water recreation, an
apple orchard where visitors can pick their own
in the Fall, cross-country skiing and a chance to escape the big city.
Famous American poet, William Cullen Bryant, once praised the natural beauty of these surroundings, saying: "This
area ought to be visited by every poet and painter in the
1839, Philander Prescott, American frontiersman and fur
trapper, was commissioned by the officers at Fort Snelling
to build a house and a store at the site now known as Prescott
and apparently named after Philander. Prescott eventually
moved into what is today the Minneapolis-St. Paul area
his wife and nine children. His wife, Mary, was the daughter
of a Sioux
Indian chief and Philander was later much in
demand as an interpreter for government officials in conference
and treaty talks with Native American tribes. He was later
killed in an ambush in 1862, during an Indian uprising in
Redwood County. Personal journals left behind by Philander
Prescott have become an invaluable historical document of
the 1850's into the early 20th century, Prescott was a strategic
location since river traffic had to move on either the Mississippi
or the St. Croix Rivers. Prescott sits right at the point
where the two rivers join. It became a center for river
shipping, steamboat transportation and milling, as immigrants
streamed in via the steamboats and began settling Minnesota
and Wisconsin. Millions of board feet of big white pine
lumber were shipped down the St. Croix until the area became
logged out and the railroads arrived. With the coming of
the trains, the era of the steamboat waned and the flow
of settlers diminished. Prescott's population decreased
to 750 in 1930. In 1999, the population is 3,552 v.s. the
nearly 3 million in the nearby Twin Cities.
enthusiasts can enjoy a wide array of water recreation in Prescott.
There is power-boating, sailing and canoeing on the St.
Croix River going north to Afton, Hudson and Stillwater.
Prescott offers a public dock and boat launch with adjacent
parking for vehicles with trailers, just a short walk from
downtown. There are two public beaches and the city hosts
a community festival in September, called Prescott Daze,
featuring children's games, a parade, athletic tournaments,
card playing tournaments, bingo, arts and crafts and food.
cross-country skiing fans, Prescott offers several nearby
trails where you can glide along in a silence broken only
by chirp of Chickadees, the bubbling of a brook or the whisper
of pines. Ten minutes north of Prescott, Kinnickkinnic State
Park has 2.5 miles of cross-country trails. Willow River
State Park, about 20 minutes north of Prescott has 8.5 miles
of trails, offering flat, open, hilly and wooded terrain
to cross-country skiiers.
in downtown Prescott includes unique shops, historical sites,
causal dining, home cooking and fine dining. There is a
picnic area along the river where one can hear the sounds
of trains, boats, barges, ducks, geese -- and see a bald
eagle occasionally winging overhead.
[Printed with the
permission of the author Dorie Haugen.]