Archeological resources on federal lands within the Riverway are extensive and diverse and are the Riverway's most significant cultural resource. The Paleo-Indian and Archaic eras (11,500-500 years B.C.) are not well represented within the St. Croix drainage. The Woodland stage (500 B.C. to A.D. 1000) is well represented with a diversity of sites. These sites represent village, camp, quarry, rock art, burial mounds and trails. There are also archeological sites from the historic period representing camps, farmsteads, logging camps, log slides, dams, roads, and cemeteries. Combined with oral traditions and written records, these resources help us learn about the people who came before us.
From 1976 to 1979 a survey and evaluation was conducted of archeological resources in the upper portions of the Riverway. Further evaluation of selected sites, identified by the survey, also occurred. During the three field seasons both historic and prehistoric sites were documented. While not an exhaustive survey, two hundred and seventeen sites were located within the projected boundaries, not all of which came under federal jurisdiction. Ninety-one sites were identified as significant sources of information and having National Register potential.
The National Park Service initiated a survey and evaluation of the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway from south of Taylors Falls to north of Stillwater, Minnesota in 1992. The survey found this section of the St. Croix to be rich in archeological resources. The project archeologist recommended nominating a segment of the park as an archeological district to the National Register due to the extensive sites in that area. When the survey analysis and report is complete the park hopes to have an accurate assessment of the archeological resources as well as a tool to predict where additional archeological sites might be expected to be found. This second survey brought the number of known archeological sites within park boundaries to 326. A few more have since been found prior to ground disturbance projects.
In keeping with National Park Service policies, management of archeological resources is based on avoiding disturbance to the site. All areas of proposed ground disturbance are reviewed for known archeological sites and are surveyed and/or monitored by a professional archeologist if there is any likelihood of disturbing archeological sites. Reports of findings are made to the Riverway, the State Historical Preservation Office and affiliated Tribes, if warranted. Work is halted if archeological artifacts are uncovered. The National Park Service curates the artifacts and field notes collected during field surveys and excavations. Help us preserve these non-renewable resources.