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County rivers display a part of Pioneer Day

Making this year’s exhibit at the Pierce County Historical Association’s (PCHA) history center in Bay City part of this Saturday’s Pioneer Day is like going back to the source.

That’s because the latest exhibit’s theme is “Rivers and Waterways Through Pierce County.” Saturday’s event, now organized by the PCHA, was originally under the auspices of the association’s River Bluffs chapter, according to PCHA President John Norquist. Moreover, the history center is named “River Bluffs.”

It will be the site for the special day Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Besides the history of county rivers on exhibit, there will be activities based on the past, attractions for children and adults, plus refreshments and entertainment for all.

Pat Mory of the PCHA, who along with fellow member Pat Wiff compiled the exhibit, said Thursday they started with the mills. The county was once a saw and flour mill mecca.

“The early towns here were along the rivers,” Mory said.

Pierce’s first mill was in the Town of Clifton, operated by C.B. Cox (“the father of the county mills”), she said. It led to five big mills eventually running in nearby River Falls, which at one point was one of the largest milling communities—if not the largest—in the U.S. This brought the railroad in 1878 to retrieve the flour.

Meantime, Clifton’s mill later became an electric power mill, Mory said.

In addition to Clifton and River Falls, a mill on the Rush River supplied power for Ellsworth, she said. It’s credited with getting the railroad to Ellsworth, though the purpose here was hauling logs from lumbering, not flour.

ool students. Admission to the event is free and it will be held rain or shine.

For more please read the June 25 print version of the Herald. 

Bill Kirk

Bill Kirk was editor of the Pierce County Herald in Ellsworth, from 1988 to February, 2015 and is now on staff as a reporter. He holds a bachelors degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He previously worked in the media distribution department at the University of Minnesota's Minneapolis campus and is past editor of The Tri-County News in Osseo, Wisconsin.

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