Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

My impressions of Marine on St. Croix October 27, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 6:00 AM
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The volunteer fire department is housed in the heart of the downtown.

The volunteer fire department is housed in the heart of the one-block, give or take a little, downtown.

MARINE ON ST. CROIX. It sounds so poetic, those four linked words that name a village banking the St. Croix River.

And it is that in the sense of feeling like you could be perhaps in South Shaftsbury, Vermont—although I’ve never traveled there and have no idea if this Minnesota community is at all like Shaftsbury—where Robert Frost penned his most famous of poems, “Stopping By the Woods On A Snowy Evening.”

A quick snapshot shows the Village Hall to the right and the Marine General Store on the far left.

A quick snapshot shows the Village Hall to the right and the Marine General Store two doors down.

Marine on St. Croix presents history and nature mingled in a quaint New England type setting. Here the 1870 General Store and 1888 Village Hall still serve this community of 700, although I have no idea where all those residents live. Apparently not near the town’s business district. Perhaps across the roadway which, to the north, will take you to Taylors Falls and, to the south, to Stillwater.

Fabric flags remind me of simpler times.

Fabric flags outside Reclaiming Beautiful remind me of simpler times.

This place has a timeless, poetic feel. Woods and river. Aged wood frame buildings. A history that stretches back to 1839 when this settlement was termed Marine Mills and served as home to the first commercial sawmill along the St. Croix River. That makes Marine on St. Croix 175 years old this year, founded 19 years before Minnesota became a state.

I can almost smell the scent of white pine which once forested this region, see logs bobbing in the St. Croix, hear the screech of saw against wood, domesticating trunks into lumber.

That aged General Store, which I didn't check out, but wish I had. Next time.

That aged General Store, which I didn’t check out, but wish I had. Next time.

Pausing at the General Store, I imagine deep dark coffee beans and yards of cotton calico and sticks of penny candy.

A sign points to ice cream, but...

A sign points to ice cream, but…

...the shop is closed for the season.

…the shop is closed for the season.

Marine on St. Croix clings to its past in a good sort of way that makes you want to stay longer, to linger and think poetic thoughts.

BONUS PHOTOS:

There's a garage in town.

There’s a garage in town.

And a cafe with that curious bike marking it.

And a cafe with a bike, minus Toto, marking it.

Reclaiming Beautiful was closed on the day of my visit.

Reclaiming Beautiful was closed on the day of my visit.

But the bar was open, although I did not check it out.

But the bar was open, although I did not check it out.

And the volunteer firemen were on duty.

And the volunteer firemen were on duty.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling