NPS, Arcola Mills to reopen visitor center

Photo courtesy of Arcola Mills
For the second straight year, the National Park Service will open a St. Croix River Scenic Riverway Visitor Center at Arcola Mills in Stillwater Township. The center will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily from Sept. 1 through Oct. 26 and be staffed by volunteers. More than 4,000 people visited NPS the center at Arcola Mills last year over a 30-day period.

ST. CROIX FALLS, Wis. — The Arcola Mills Historic Foundation in Stillwater Township and National Park Service (NPS) announced Thursday that Arcola Mills will host an NPS Visitor Center this fall.

The Arcola Mills center will be open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 1 through Oct. 26. Admission to the historic site is free throughout this period.

In October 2011, the two organizations partnered to make the Arcola Mills site, located in the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway, accessible to the public. More than 4,000 people visited the temporary visitor center over a 30-day period.

“We are very pleased to have the opportunity to partner again with the Arcola Mills Historic Foundation.  We were delighted by the results of our shared efforts last October,” said Chris Stein, NPS superintendent of the riverway. “We had 4,077 visitors from 32 states and 11 different countries.”

“The experiment with the National Park Service in 2011 was a great success, said Ray Marshall, acting chairman of the Arcola Mills board.

Volunteers will staff the Arcola Mills Visitor Center while it is open. Center visitors can enjoy unique views of the river and a historic lumber mill site, watch a film about the riverway and see exhibits about the history of Arcola Mills and logging along the St. Croix River.

Besides hosting the visitor center this fall, Arcola Mills is also available to the public throughout the year for meetings, events, weddings and other gatherings.

Located six miles north of Stillwater at 12905 Arcola Trail North, Arcola Mills was the site of a small, prosperous village founded in the 1840s at the start of the lumbering era. Today, the site features the Mower House, a restored Greek Revival mansion built in 1847, and one of the largest undeveloped parcels of land on the shoreline of the nationally designated wild and scenic St. Croix River.

By the 1920s, long after the lumbering bonanza ended and the sawmill closed, the Mower family home and surrounding village fell into disuse. In the mid-1930s, Dr. Henry Van Meier and his wife, Katharine, purchased the Mower house and its surrounding acreage on the St. Croix River. It became their summer home until Dr. Van Meier’s death in 1979.

In the 1990s, after Katharine Van Meier’s death, Arcola Mills was incorporated as a non-profit organization. Today, the foundation’s mission restoring and preserving this natural and historic place on the St. Croix River and encouraging people to gather at the site to connect, learn, create and renew their spirit.

The best access to the site is from the north end of Arcola Trail (the turn is located approximately six miles north of Stillwater and 4.5 miles south of Marine on St. Croix). For additional information, call 651-439-1653 or visit http://arcolamills.org.

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