WATERWAYS, large and small:
-Little Buffalo Creek: AKA Meadow Brook
-Meadow Brook: (AKA Betzold's Creek, Little Buffalo Creek, Slaughter House Creek): In 1885 the city built a bridge over it at So. 7th, St.. It starts somewhere east of the fairgrounds on Thiesse land, going through TCBX trucking, just south of the old dry milk plant and north of Bane Park, under So. 6th. St. south of Cedar St., and meanders in to a dozen acres of swamp south of the old sewage treatmennt plant to the river. This creek flows all winter.
-Ravine Creek: (My name for it, for lack of any name found in print.) Starting in SE Brainerd, it first appears from a culvert at about 10th. and Oak Sts., follows north to the area between the NP Shops and the old Hickerson Garmet Factory, under the RR tracks and The Fill, through concrete culverts under the Franklin football field, and along the west side of the cemetery to the river, still in the culvert. This creek dries up during dry spells. Bridged in 1885 at Main St., now Washington St..
-Whiskey Creek: This long creek meanders out of the swamp behind the Walmart/Cub Foods area, and travels via culverts through the golf course, with a minor showing as a green pond, then under the Paul Bunyan Trail, and on to the river at the end of the road which used to be the start of Riverside Drive.
-Walnut St. "creek":
-Rice Lake "inlet" creek East: flows in to West creek
-Rice Lake "inlet" creek West: larger of the two
I suppose this would be the likely place to put the subject of ISLANDS on the river, a subject I know very little of. The big island just downstream from Boom Lake is called First Island on the maps, and I think this is the island aslo called Frenchman's Island. I have heard stories of a French man living out there and neighbors used to bring him supplies in the wintertime when the ice was thick. I have no clue what his name was, but I did hear it once and neglected to write it down. I'd love to know more on this, such as how he subsisted and the reason he lived on an island!
UPDATE, 10/4/2009: An unusual story is unfolding on this subject. A gal called me in 2007 and said her family used to summer out on the island after "Frenchie" willed the ilsland to them. He had a cabin there in the early 1900's and even an automobile bridge to it from the mainland to the west. She is writing a story on it. No entity has clamed ownership of it since it passed from her family to an adjacent developer. Keep posted...!
Mississippi River Historic Tour through Brainerd Minnesota:
There is a lot of history crammed in to a short stretch of river from the dam south to First Island, if you know what youíre looking for!
From the paper mill downstream:
Dam: 1888. Built by C. F. Kindred for electricity generation. Rebuilt 1916 by NW Paper Co. for more output.
Pulp Mill: 1899. Weyerhaeuser built this small plant on the WEST side of the river (just below the present/2009 dam), employing only a few men.
Paper mill: 1917. The Northwest Paper Co. builds a new paper mill on the east side of the river.
Boat Landing: This is operated by the City Parks & Rec., on the E/S side of the river, just below the cemetery. Look for the remains of the tall concrete culvert that was built in 1914 to allow the Ravine Creek to flow under the new Fill across the ravine, now/2009 Washington St. About 25' of the end of this culvert has eroded in to the river, dropping several feet. The creek still flows.
Pilings: Look for pilings that were used to corral logs for booming to the JJ Howe Lumber Co. A wire or chain line was once running from the dam to Boom Lake right down the middle of the river. The east side of the line was for log boomage, and the west side was for boat navigation.
Islands: Depending on the water level, several islands can be seen on the way to Boom Lake.
Ravine Creek Outlet: If you look closely on the east/south side about where N. 2nd St. would point to from Bluff Ave., before turning the bend to the south, you can see the gorge carved out by this creek that starts south of Oak St. and travels under The Fill, on the edge of the Franklin School football field and across cemetery road. The culvert under The Fill made in 1914 diverted it directly north to the river, but the river bed remains intact all the way to here after making an abrupt westerly hook.
Washington St. Bridge, first, 1932:
Ferry Crossing: This went from about below the present Riverside School to just south of the Washington St. bridge, in the Port building (earlier Lakeland Clinic) area. There are a lot of pilings in the form of a crescent on the east bank not too far from the RR bridge, that may be remnants of this Ferry Landing dock or tie-ups. the pilings are not milled but rather logs with exposed branch knobs, strangely pounded in small end first.
Piping: There is a 6" or so pipe line running at an angle on the river-bottom, easily visible on a low water year just 2' deep even from the Washington St. bridge, as the water ripples over it. This may have been a sewage pipe for the NP Hospital on the west side of the river.
NP Hospital Nurses Residence and Chief Surgeon's Residence, now/2009 the 2 PORT buildings. You can see these up on the top of the west bank.
Railroad Bridge: Built March 1871, collapsed 1875, replaced 1896.
Laurel St. Bridge: Built 1882 made of wood, replaced by steel in 1898, and again in 1980 but of concrete.
Steamboat Landing: This was on the curve opposite the Don Adamson field bleachers, just a few feet south of the big round gate valve controlling the culvert that drains the athletic field area. On a low water year all that remains are what I believe to be 2 pilings from the dockage 10' out from the bank. There was a bustling steamboat business from here to Grand Rapids.
College Drive Bridge: Built ____??? Check out the wonderful floating fishing pier on the east side!
J. J. Howe Lumber Co.: The entire area south of college Drive on the east side of the river, including the present soccer field area and all of the Boom Lake area was all sawmill and lumberyard from 1876 to 1896 when it burned. A RR spur went down to here as early as 1876.
Boom Lake: Named such as it was where the lumber company boomed the logs awaiting sawing. At the time the lake had and inlet and an outlet. The inlet area is still visible where the rock berm structure protrudes out from the road around the lake. Look closely and you'll see an old hydrant by that berm, one of many that supplied the yard. The outlet is now still connecting the lake and river (on a high water year) with a 3' culvert under the other rock bridge structure.
Brewery: Not visible from the river since it was razed in 1924, but located on the east side of Boom Lake. From the south end of the Walking Trail, it is just to the north of the crest of that high spot you see. There was beer brewed here as early as 1875, but certainly from 1880 to 1914. It was closed by the federal government in 1914, 5 years before national prohibition because of it was within the confines of an Indian reservation. At one point in its later years it brewed Old Pilsner lager beer under the name of Brainerd Brewing Co.
Lookout: On the east side of the river by the sewage treatment plant is a concrete structure, possibly a sewage transfer box, that might serve someday as a nice rest stop on a path around the plant. It juts out nicely nearly in to the river.
Island: There is an island coming up that is nearly under water on a high water year.
First Island: This is the NEXT island, strangely called First Island on the maps, that once was home to an old trapper in the early 1900's. The island has long been called Frenchieís or Frenchmanís Island. He trapped, tended logs and collected and rendered sap for maple syrup. His cabin was right in the middle of the island on the hill you can see. At one time he had an automobile bridge out to it from the west bank of the mainland. You are still in the Brainerd city limits, but the island appears to be dissected right down the middle between Brainerd and Baxter. I can find no private of government entity that claims ownership to this island.
For information on the Dam, see separate sub-page under this page.
For information on the Steamboat Landing, see WALKABOUTS.