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ISSUE 116 VOL 6 PUBLISHED 10/18/2002

Taylors Falls; variety in a small town

By Anonymous
Contributing Writer

Friday, October 18, 2002

Fall Break provides the perfect opportunity to get outside and enjoy the changes of the season. Instead of doing traditional fall activities like going on a scenic drive or visiting the apple orchard, try something new this year and head to Taylors Falls, Minn. What makes Taylors Falls different from typical fall fun? Not only can one follow tradition and see the beautiful colors in nature, but one may also add a little twist to his or her fun by trying something new such as rock-climbing, hiking, shopping, or going for a ride on a steamboat. Taylors Falls has all of these and more. Nearby Interstate State Park offers trails for the public and the main street offers amusements for all ages. Located on the St. Croix River on the border of Minnesota and Wisconsin, Taylors Falls is only a short drive northeast of the Twin Cities. Interstate State Park is located two miles south of Taylors Falls and attracts more than 370,000 visitors per year. Taylors Falls was established in the 1850s. As the timber industry grew, the St. Croix river became a prime spot for both chopping and transporting pine trees. Several men settled in on the river immediately after Minnesota obtained the land from the Chippewa nation. Jesse Taylor, for whom the town was named, and Joseph Brown claimed land on the west bank of the St. Croix. As the town grew and a general store and county seat were established, Taylors Falls became a cornerstone for the Midwestern lumber industry. After six decades of log jams and forestry, Taylors Falls extinguished its role in the lumber industry. In 1912, the timber industry here became extinct, however, some of the workers stayed. Combined with the high immigration rates of the late 19th century, Taylors Falls grew into a small city. Taylors Falls depicts small town Minnesota at its finest. With all of its attractions, it is hard to believe that today the town’s population is only 951. The tourist attractions bring in much of the towns income, and it is easy to see why. Interstate State Park was founded in 1895 by the Minnesota State Legislature. Mining and other industries were threatening the land and wildlife of the Dalles of the St. Croix, and the Legislature saw a need to protect the area. Five years later, the Wisconsin State Legislature followed suit. Together, the two legislatures named the area Interstate Park because tourists can visit both sides of the St. Croix in either state. Because of the protection the states ensued, visitors today are able to enjoy several species of endangered trees and plants indigenous to the area. The park offers three self-guided trails for visitors to hike its 298 acres of land. The trails range from easy to intermediate in ability level from .5 miles to four miles in length. For the more ambitious, rock climbing is also possible. Due to the recent changes in land shape, several warnings have been placed upon certain climbing sites and formations. Check with a park ranger or information center before climbing. Although the parks terrain is not recommended for winter activities like cross-country skiing or snow shoeing, visitors still come to check out the wildlife like white-tailed deer, skunks, birds and owls. In the summer, Taylors Falls and Interstate State Park are infamous for cliff diving, although much controversy surrounds this activity for safety reasons. After a visit to the park, one might be interested in relaxing in town. Bed and breakfasts and antique shops line the main street. Taylors Falls is home to one of the top five bed and breakfasts in the country: the Old Jail Cottage. Rectified from the Taylors Falls jail, which closed in 1923, the Cottage opened in 1981. The first licensed bed and breakfast of Minnesota, Old Jail Cottage offers private apartment-style lodging complete with unique décor and an old-fashioned breakfast to boast. Taylors Falls is also a hotspot for restaurants. Grab an ice cream cone or old-fashioned soda at the General Store or head to the Drive-In Restaurant for a burger and shake. Waitresses in poodle skirts serve customers after they have ordered over a radio service. Or take a dining cruise on a steamboat. The surroundings of the river paired with the timeless atmosphere make an exciting combination. With Fall Break here and autumns end approaching, it is definitely one of the last chances to enjoy Minnesotas most quickly-changing season. Head to Taylors Falls and immerse yourself in the crisp, cool air of fall while experiencing one of Minnesotas treasured small towns.

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