#MnMondays: The Stillwater Lift Bridge

Completed in 1931, the historic aerial lift bridge is an iconic landmark in Stillwater. Spanning over the St. Croix River, and connecting Minnesota and Wisconsin, the famous bridge is crossed by about 18,000 vehicles daily.

Throughout the years, visitors young and old have enjoyed hearing the horn notifying everyone the bridge will be going up, then watching the bridge lift into the air to allow boats of all kinds from large yachts to paddle boats pass through. From the shore, you can stand and wave at the boats as they go, with the passengers usually waving as if they are on parade.

There’s something so simple, yet so fascinating about it that it has continued to lure a crowd for generations. When the river rises too high, the bridge has to close, causing all of the traffic to reroute miles down the road to make the river crossing.

Later in 2016, the construction of a new bridge will be complete, and the famous icon will be converted into a bicycle and pedestrian bridge. While it’ll be nice to have a higher bridge that will always be crossable, it’s sad to see the end of an era in historic downtown Stillwater…

What’s your favorite lift bridge memory?

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#MnMondays: On The Banks of Plum Creek

If you’re like me, perhaps you grew up watching reruns of the “Little House On The Prairie” series with Michael Landon and Melissa Gilbert, and reading the classic collection of books by Laura Ingalls Wilder—including “On the Banks of Plum Creek” which accounts Laura’s experiences living in a dugout home in southern Minnesota.

While she was born in Wisconsin, Laura Ingalls Wilder spent some of her childhood in Walnut Grove, MN. Today, fans of the beloved author can visit the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum and Gift Store right in the charming downtown area, as well as the Ingalls Dugout Site outside of town.

A while back I finally made the trek to Walnut Grove to check out the Laura-related sites—which I highly recommend if you’re a fan of the books.

The museum has a series of outdoor buildings  including a dugout home, school house, covered wagon, 1898 chapel and an early settler home—all of which visitors can step inside and learn about life on the prairie in the 1800s. Plus there’s a museum building with some of Laura’s personal items, as well as scale models and memorabilia from the TV show, and a gift shop with books and Laura-focused items.

WG-Museum-OutsideIf you grew up reading the books, you must head out of town to the Ingalls Dugout Site. While the dugout home has long ago caved in, you can still see the depression on the banks of Plum Creek where the home once was, and the very spot Laura describes in her book, “On The Banks of Plum Creek.” Standing there, you can just imagine Laura playing in the creek and hear the sounds of the prairie grasses flowing in the breeze.

Serious fans will want to plan their visit on weekends in July for the Wilder Pageant, which is an outdoor family-friendly drama about Laura’s life in Walnut Grove during the 1970s. In 2016, there are shows July 8-9, 15-16, and 22-23.

What’s your favorite Laura Ingalls Wilder book?

Fireworks with a Chance of Purple Rain

To me, the Fourth of July isn’t complete without fireworks, and in my eyes, the best place to watch fireworks in Minnesota is at Red, White and Boom! Ideally, I like to grab some ice cream at Izzy’s and then find a great spot along the riverfront, just behind the Guthrie and the Mill City Museum. The fireworks show over the Stone Arch Bridge, Mississippi River and the city really is a sight to behold.Version 2

But this year, there’s something new and very Minnesota–fireworks will be set to Prince tunes. The show is being sponsored by The Current, a local radio station and onlookers will  see the sky lit up with breathtaking fireworks as they hear songs like Raspberry Beret, Little Red Corvette and most likely–Purple Rain.Minneapolis-Fireworks-2

So if you’re in the area, be sure to check out this year’s special fireworks show. Earlier in the day there will be the Red, White and Boom! TC Half Marathon, Relay and 5K, plus live music in Mill Ruins Park and Father Hennepin Bluffs Park.

Where’s your favorite spot to watch fireworks on the 4th?

Happy Fourth of July everyone! Have a safe and happy Independence Day!