Welcome to Prescott. It is located at the point where the St. Croix River meets the Mississippi River. Settled in 1840, it was described as the “mouth of the St. Croix”. Prescott received its official name in 1851, apparently in honor of Philander Prescott, an indian interpreter and trader who built a cabin on the site where the City of Prescott now stands. He held claim on 1,200 acres for soldiers from Fort Snelling, MN, at the confluence of the Mississippi and St. Croix Rivers. They planned to establish the first major community for immigrants migrating up the Mississippi River. Land speculation drove prices upward and the immigrants moved further north to the area now known as St. Paul, MN.
The rivers played an important factor in the beginnings of Prescott. River traffic had to go by way of the Mississippi or St. Croix Rivers. This made the location of Prescott a strategic place. It became a center for river shipping, steamboat transportation and milling. Immigrants arrived via the steamboats and settled lands in Minnesota and Wisconsin. The huge white pines to the north were harvested and rafted down the St. Croix by crews of loggers. Over 209 million board feet of lumber were rafted in 1896. Several warehouses stored food and supplies. Hotels accommodated the influx of people. There were restaurants, banks and many new homes.
The railroads led to the demise of steamboat traffic. Lumbering resources were exhausted and settlers came in smaller numbers. Prescott became a sleepy river town of only 750 in 1930, down from 1,138 in 1870. In 1999, the population is 3,552, not including the housing developments located outside the city limits. It is a unique city, offering warmth, friendliness and a quiet charm all its own. William Cullen Bryant once praised the beauty of the area and declared: “This area ought to be visited by every poet and painter in the land.” As you stand in Mercord Mill Park and view the muddy waters of the Mississippi River joined by the blue waters of the St. Croix River, you will begin to understand his statement.
Outdoor enthusiasts enjoy boating and canoeing on the St. Croix River going north to Afton, Hudson and Stillwater. Year-round beauty abounds. However, it has been said you must experience the peak of its show in fall when the trees become brilliant with color; the apples of the valley ripen and majestic winter descends on the St. Croix River Valley.
Shopping in the downtown district of Prescott offers many choices. Unique shops mix with restaurants offering casual dining, home cooking and fine dining. A picnic area along the river offers the chance to enjoy the sights and sounds of trains, boats, barges, ducks and geese. Look up and you may see a bald eagle flying overhead!
Water recreation abounds. A public dock, sponsored by the City of Prescott, offers easy access to downtown. The public boat launch has adjacent parking for vehicles with trailers. It is a short walk from downtown.
Two public beaches are available to the community. The St. Croix River is designated a National Scenic Waterway, administered by the National Park Service. A community festival known as Prescott Daze is held in September. Featured are children’s games, parade, athletic tournaments, card playing tournaments, arts and crafts and foods.
Visit Prescott! You’ll discover beautiful scenery, lovely people and interesting things to see and do. It’s a little bit of God’s country!
All text used with permission from Helmer Printing, Inc. Copywrite 2007-2008. All Rights Reserved.
Prescott Area Chamber of Commerce, 237 Broad St., Prescott, WI 54021
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