A Visit to St. Croix State Park

Our first camping trip as adults was at St. Croix State Park in 2006. One of the most popular state parks in Minnesota, it was a favorite camping destination for my family when I was a kid. A relatively short drive from home with lots of hiking, bike and canoe rentals, and interpretive activities, they also had a little store in case you forgot anything. We decided this was the perfect location to test our camping skills and eagerly hit the road for the weekend with our borrowed gear.

Our campsite in 2006, #211

Our campsite in 2006, #211

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A Meeting Place: Tettegouche State Park

Located on the Minnesota shoreline of Lake Superior, Tettegouche State Park is home to High Falls, Shovel Point, historic campgrounds, and stunning vistas. We were there on a warm spring day and hiked along the Baptism River, across the old suspension bridge, and down to the bottom of High Falls – the second highest waterfall in Minnesota.  With the roar of the rapidly moving water and the sun on our faces, we stopped often along the trail to breath in the heavy smells of pine trees.

the view from below of high falls at tettegouche state park

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The Veterans Conservation Corps & Sibley State Park

The stock market crash of October 1929 sent the United States spiraling into the deepest economic downturn in history. When Franklin Delano Roosevelt took office on March 4,  1933, nearly half of the country’s banks had collapsed and between 13 and 15 million Americans were unemployed. FDR called the Congress into Emergency Session five days later and proposed the Emergency Conservation Work (EWC) Act, more widely known as the Civilian Conservation Corps.

civilian conservation corps

Civilian Conservation Corps, Trabuco Camp, El Toro, 1933

Considered a “peacetime army,” the goal of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was to recruit unemployed young men and “have them do battle against the destruction and erosion of America’s natural resources.” Originally targeted to men 18-23, the program was eventually expanded to include men 17-28. The men lived together in camps run by the U.S. Army and the program provided them with food, shelter and clothing.  In exchange for their service, they received $30 a month, $25 of which had to be sent home to their families. A subgroup of the CCC program was specifically for veterans of WWI, their group was called the Veterans Conservation Corps (VCC).

sibley state park

Sibley State Park

In 1935, the Veterans Conservation Corps #1785 arrived in New London, Minnesota to “build” Sibley State Park. The state park had been established in 1919, but until the VCC arrived, development within its boundaries was limited. Over the next three years, approximately 200 men built roads, buildings and trails within the park. Granite buildings still stand as a reminder of their handiwork and most are on the National History Register.

historic fish house building

Sibley State Park Fish Cleaning Building built by VCC

The Civilian Conservation Corps program came to an end in 1942 with World War II and the dwindling need for work relief. The legacy of the program can be seen across the country through the nearly 3 billion trees they planted to help reforest America, in the more than 800 parks they built, the upgrades they made to existing parks, the updated forest fire fighting methods they helped implement, and through their building of service structures and roadways in remote areas. More than three million young men were involved in the CCC, it has been described as the most popular experiment of the New Deal.

Water Tower and Campground Shelter built by the VCC

Water Tower and Campground Shelter built by the VCC

Primary Sources for this post were:
Civilian Conservation Corps Legacy
Educational signs located at Sibley State Park

One Last Hurrah

This post marks the end of our first scamping season. It’s hard to believe that we’ve been the proud owners of our bouncing, baby Scamp for six months already! We spent more time camping this year than we have in any other in any other season, but still, all good things must come to an end. Before the snow flies, we had one final outing and then put her in storage for the long, Minnesota winter.

The sun was shining when we arrived at Sibley State Park:
sibley state park

The prairie section of the park was alive with Eastern Bluebirds, they were everywhere you looked! This was the only one that was still long enough for a photo:
eastern bluebird

We were so happy to be outside, especially Danny. He doesn’t look like he minds riding shotgun, what do you think?

dog in backpack

Danny has had a recent injury so hiking is not allowed, that’s not keeping him off the trail though!

There are a lot of things to love about camping in the off-season. Not only are there no bugs, but the trees are absolutely dramatic without their leaves:
trees with sunshine

And you have the campground to yourself:

It was a perfect trip, so peaceful:
sibley state park

But all good things must come to an end. Farewell, Geraldine, it has been a great season. I can’t wait to see you again when the snow melts.
scamp in storage

Minnesota’s Last True Wilderness

Sometimes referred to as Minnesota’s last true wilderness, Big Bog State Recreation is home to the largest peat bog in the lower 48 states. It is larger than the state of Rhode Island.
big bog

Home to the Ojibwe Indians until the late 19th century, Big Bog was left relatively untouched when logging spread through the area due to the swampy nature of the land and lack of mature pine trees.
big bog

The bog is now home to many threatened or endangered native plants of Minnesota including carnivorous sundews and pitcher plants.big bog

This area hosts more than 300 species of birds and many mammals including moose, black bear, white-tailed deer, gray wolves and, of course, the woodchuck.

Looking Back: Crow Wing State Park

We haven’t had an outdoor adventure in far too long, sadly work schedules and other commitments have been taking their toll on our scamping adventures. Getaway plans are on the horizon, but in the meantime I have been looking back at outings we had in the spring until we once again find ourselves in the woods slapping mosquitoes.

This week I was looking back to our stay at Crow Wing State Park in the beginning of May. It was a beautiful weekend and our first trip out in our shiny, new Scamp. I hope you enjoy my walk down memory lane.


Within the borders of Crow Wing State Park are the remnants of Old Crow Wing, one of the most populous towns in Minnesota during the 1850s and 60s.

The town was at the confluence of the Crow Wing and Mississippi Rivers which provided easy travel routes and good hunting.
crow wing river

In early years, the region was inhabited by Dakota and there were conflicts with the Ojibwe who eventually gained control over the area.

By the late 18th century, European fur traders were in the area and a trading post was opened in 1823. The town slowly grew around it.

The economy boomed and three churches were established, the remains of a small cemetery are visible near the site of the Catholic church.
historic cemetery

At its peak, there were between 600-700 residents in the town, approximately half were Ojibwe.
yellow rumped warbler

Clement Beaulieu ran the American Fur Company’s trading post. His home is the oldest standing structure in Minnesota north of St. Anthony Falls and was considered a mansion when it was built in 1849.
beaulieu mansion

But the success of the town came to a quick end.

In 1868, the Ojibwe were relocated to the White Earth Indian Reservation. And in 1871, railroad magnate James J. Hill decided to route his Northern Pacific Railroad over the Mississippi in Brainerd, 10 miles north of Old Crowing.

Most of the town’s residents had moved on by 1880.
sun through trees

Today, Crow Wing State Park is on the National Register of Historic Places.

mississippi river

“Before him flowed the majestic Mississippi River, opening a delightful vista of sparkling waters, and romantic wooded shores far below, while above on a graceful bend of the river, picturesque little cottages peered out from shady nooks. A birch canoe was drawn up on the shore where he stood and another was swiftly gliding past the bank of the pretty island opposite.” – A description of the town of Crow Wing, published in Harper’s Magazine in 1858