The St. Croix River winds its way through wild and scenic countryside from its origin in a Spruce-Tamarack swamp near Upper St. Croix Lake. The waters of the Namekagon join the St. Croix 45 miles upstream from this sign. The river system varies from swift and rocky whitewater to placid flowages enroute to the dam 36 miles south, at St. Croix Falls.
Historically, the river system was a major highway to native Americans, voyageurs, explorers, missionaries, and loggers. The Santee Sioux and Chippewa tribes fought repeatedly for possession of the valuable rice lakes in the St. Croix basin - a war which was to last well into the nineteenth century. During the 1700's and 1800's numerous outposts along the waterways in quest of control of the profitable fur trade. With the depletion of the beaver in the 1830's, an 80-year logging era began in the pineries along the river.
The Governor Knowles State Forest, established in 1970, and the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway created in 1968, provide protection for this valuable resource. Many thousands of people each year enjoy the recreational opportunities provided on the riverway and the state forest. The Northern States Power Company played a key role in the establishment of the National Scenic Riverway and the state forest by the donation of 25,000 acres of land.