The St. Croix River Valley has long been home to Native Americans including Dakota, Ojibwe, Ho-Chunk and Menominee tribes.
As Europeans began to settle in the area, logging became a huge industry. Dams were constructed to float logs over falls and through narrows to the mills. A boom economy was created by the logging industry in this area, resulting in the establishment of many towns and mills along the river. But the timber did not last, and in 1914 log drives ended on the St. Croix.
The Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway was one of the first areas designated under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968. The Lower St. Croix, the riverway below Stillwater, was added in 1972.
The St. Croix National Scenic Riverway is a unit of the National Park Service located on the Namekagon and St. Croix Rivers. The riverway includes the two rivers and the riparian (riverbank) areas. Most of the National Riverway occupies the boundary between Wisconsin and Minnesota. The St. Croix Riverway could possibly be the most undeveloped riverway in the entire Upper Mississippi River Area. Two hundred and fifty-two miles of river environment have been preserved as part of the National Wild and Scenic System. The riverway is maintained and managed by three main organizations; the National Park Service, and the Minnesota and Wisconsin Departments of Natural Resources.
The St. Croix National Scenic Riverway offers many programs to schools and to the public dealing with the wildlife, history, ecosystem, and resource management.