war veteran, Joel Foster, is credited as the founding father
of River Falls. He and his black indentured servant, Dick,
built a log cabin with a root cellar along the banks of the
Kinnickinnic River, about a half mile south of the falls in
the winter of 1848-49. That was the first official year of
the River Falls settlement.
What's happened since then would certainly astonish Joel
Foster, if he could come hunting and fishing his way down
the St. Croix Valley today, as he did over 150 years ago.
One thing that would get his attention, if he arrived in
mid-July, would be the crowds at the University of
Wisconsin-River Falls, watching the Kansas City Chiefs of
the National Football League work out. The Chiefs are there
from mid-July through mid-August and draw about 17,000
spectators and fans per summer.
For that matter, the University itself would be new to an
old-timer like Joel. River Falls' population swells up a bit
during the school year, as 6000 UW-RF students roll into
town in the fall. In 1999 the university celebrated it's
125th anniversary. Chippewa Valley Technical College is also
in town, as are three elementary schools, a middle school
(soon to expand to two middle schools and a high school (the
new $27 million high school that opened in the fall of 2001,
complete with auditorium and eight-lane competitive swimming
River Falls is rich in recreational resources. There are
about a dozen parks in the city, including 100-year old Glen
Park with 35 acres and a pool and Hoffman Park with 53 acres
and two lighted softball fields. The city's parks offer
facilities for volleyball, basketball, football, tennis,
sledding, cross-country skiing, ice-skating, hiking,
picnicking and just hanging out. Yes, it's a college town
for all ages.
There's also a theater called the Falls Theatre that shows
first-run movies at a very low price. Adults $3.00,
children (12 & under) & seniors (65 & older) are just $2.00.
There are three horse stables in River Falls. River tubing
is available 25 miles to the north on the Apple River. A
swimming beach in Troy Park, eight miles northwest. Nearby
Somerset also offers the Water Park with waterslides and a
Both in River Falls itself and within easy driving distance,
there are a total of eight local golf courses to play,
whether you are an amateur or a professional. Troy Burne,
the area's newest course near Hudson, was designed by
professional golfer, Tom Lehman.
For the serious trout fisherman, the Kinnickinnic River,
flowing for 20 miles from north of River Falls southwest to
Prescott, is a Class One trout stream. Brown trout are
abundant in the Kinnickinnic (about 70% of the trout
population), with the brook trout numbers on the rise,
according to a 1996 Wisconsin DNR survey. J.R. Humphrey, a
St. Paul freelance writer and angler, calls the waters of
this river "precious jewels of a fly-fisher's memory."
[Printed with the
permission of the author Dorie Haugen.]