A Day in Stillwater

I recently had a photo assignment to take pictures in the style of a famous artist, and I chose Berenice Abbott. She took pictures of street scenes and architecture, so we spent a day in Stillwater, MN. Stillwater is one of the oldest cities in Minnesota, located on the St. Croix River. Here are some of the best photos from that day.

More of my favorite photos are at A Day in Stillwater: Part 2!

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In the background, you can see the foundations for a new bridge.

 

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Taylors Falls, Interstate State Park

Rocky River Landscape

A bridge in Taylors Falls

For us, Taylors Falls and Interstate State Park are interchangeable. But, to clarify, Taylors Falls is a town, located on the St. Croix River which makes up the Minnesota-Wisconsin Border. Interstate State Park is a park at Taylors Falls which is one of the closest places to us where you can really see geology, except for Red Wing or some parts of St. Paul.

Whereas in Red Wing you experience high bluffs of sandstone, (and you do see some sandstone cliffs in Taylors Falls too) the real highlight of Taylors Falls are the potholes. Not road potholes, mind you; these are tunnels bored into solid rock, where stones and even boulders carried by glacial meltwater smashed around in certain spots, swirling and breaking and polishing the surrounding rock walls. The visitors center has some excellent examples of the stones themselves that carved the potholes of all sizes.

I don’t have any photos that show these well on-hand, so I will direct you towards someone else who wrote about the geology of Taylors Falls: http://www.hutchk12.org/geo/mngeo/page42.html

Building

I couldn’t quite figure out what this building was, but it had a nice view of the river.

Trees

 

A certain kind of pine tree becomes dominant in the forests around Taylors Falls. I don’t know what kind they are unfortunately, I like how they look though. They are different yet than the trees you will see up on the North Shore.

Michigan Lily

These Michigan Lilies were really eye-catching.

A wide area of the park is like a stone playground, popular with rock climbers and generally fun to explore and clamber around on. But, the park also has beautiful hiking trails.

Rock Wall

A loop can take you from these sandstone cliffs (you are actually climbing up to the top of a kind of bluff or steep, tall hill by taking staircases leading up the cliffs) over to the hard basalt rock and glacial potholes.

More Rock Wall

More of the sandstone cliffs, and my grandparents in the back, who took me with them there to hike. I took all of the (modern) pictures in this post that day.

As you hike you might see snails on the cliff faces, and plenty of small caves that might be host to all kinds of life.

Taylors Falls was a logging town. A sign, at the bottom of one of the tallest trees in the area, mentions that trees this size were common throughout these forests and fueled Minnesota’s growing economy. Logs would be floated down river from Taylors Falls and other towns further up, and sometimes, a jam would happen.

This striking image from 1886 shows one of the largest log jams ever, where countless logs were piled up and wedged between these cliffs.

Edna Curry, a freelance writer who lives in Taylors Falls, put together a great article on this infamous log jam here: Greatest Logjam Ever!

Landscape from top

As you near the top of the bluff you have probably sensed that you have climbed a good deal, and that is confirmed by a view like this. It probably isn’t that impressive in a picture because it is so hard to capture the scale, but the countryside sprawls out before you and you can see the river curving away.

After you have feasted your eyes, it is time to go back down again. This part of the park seems more secluded and quiet. You have climbed down into a valley, between two very steep hills.

Ravine

 

If you are lucky, and we were, you might see an elusive insect.

Walking Stick

 

We only noticed this Stick Insect because he was on a dark-colored part of the tree. If he was on a lighter part, he probably would have blended in perfectly. He would shake back and forth when perceiving danger, perhaps emulating a twig blowing in the breeze, but he had no need to be concerned. He relaxed and crawled around our hands for a bit before we put him back. Just be careful, they are very delicate.

We have always had good experiences at Interstate State Park, and this last time was no exception. It isn’t far from the cities, making it a reasonable day trip. For more information on the park, including a nice report on the current fall colors, go to the Minnesota DNR page for Interstate State Park.

Thanks for reading, and be sure to share your own stories about Taylors Falls and the surrounding area!

Up the river

 

 

St. Paul Irish Fair

Around this time of year, there is an Irish Fair held on Harriet Island in St. Paul. They have music and other festivities later on in the days, but we like to go in the mornings to look at the merchants. It is also always fun to go look at the Dogs of Ireland display. This is one of the few places that you can actually see a gigantic Irish Wolfhound in person, along with some other unique dogs. Here are a few pictures I took from the two days we went.

Shops and tents

 

Massive Tree

 

It is nice to wander around the grounds just as the shops are opening. There are good views of the St. Paul Skyline from the river, and some of the largest trees I have seen in Minnesota.

More people, and the skyline

 

This is one of the last photos I took on the first day we went. It was starting to get busier.

Skyline and fair from above

Fair Aerial

 

I took both of these the second day. There wasn’t much new to photograph at the fair itself, but we found a spot up a hill that provided an overview of the fair and a skyline view of St. Paul itself.

For more information on the Irish Fair, check out Irish Fair of Minnesota.