St. Croix Boom Site

The St. Croix Boom Site


Listed on the National Register of Historic Places on November 13, 1966


The St. Croix Boom Site was the earliest, most important, and longest-lived of the major log storage and handling areas in Minnesota. From 1880 until 1910 the state trailed only Michigan and Wisconsin in lumber production. The St. Croix Boom, opened in 1856, was the major factor in this output, passing over three and a half billion feet of lumber by 1874 and nearly eight billion more between 1875 and 1903.

The St. Croix Valley includes about 8,500 square miles or approximately 5.4 million acres; at least 70 percent of the area was originally covered with heavy growths of white and Norway pine. The forests were readily accessible for commercial exploitation by means of the St. Croix River, which provided cheap water transportation for the logs from the forests to the sawmills and then to the markets downstream in Iowa, Illinois, and Missouri.

From 1856 until 1914, the St. Croix Boom served as the terminal point for the great Minnesota log drives down the St. Croix River and its tributaries. Here millions of logs were stored each year. They were then sorted, scaled, measured, and their ownership determined. “Fitting-up crews” made the logs up into rafts and sent them further down the river to the mills. At the peak of the drives the stored logs sometimes covered a stretch of river nine miles in length.

From 1856 until June 12, 1914, when the last log went through the boom, the St. Croix Boom handled more than 15.5 billion feet of logs. By 1907, however, Minnesota’s great forests had been almost entirely cut over and the lumber industry in the state declined rapidly after that. (The boom site has been designated a National Historic Landmark.)

—National Park Service

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