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St. Croix Riverway book sketches modern history

Getting a jump on next year's 50th anniversary of the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway's upper portion, writer Buz Swerkstrom has collected more than 80 riverway-related newspaper and magazine articles into a book called "St. Croix Stories: Writings about the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway 1979-2010."

The 380-page collection, available by mail order and in both print and e-book versions from Amazon.com, adds up to a modern history of the riverway, which includes most of the St. Croix River and all 98 miles of its longest tributary, the Namekagon River.

Swerkstrom, a Luck-area resident, may well have written more about the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway (including the lower riverway) than anyone else during the three decades the book covers. His coverage of many management groups and public forums and workshops is the only existing narrative record of many of those meetings.

Retired riverway staff member Ron Erickson, who served as chief of interpretation for several years, as well as manager of Minnesota Interstate State Park, comments that "every fan of the amazing St. Croix and Namekagon rivers will enjoy Buz Swerkstrom's collection of stories. Each chronicles how people changed the rivers that form the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway, and how the rivers changed them."

The paperback book is illustrated with approximately 180 black-and-white photos.

Given the length restrictions imposed by newspapers and magazines, Swerkstrom expanded many of the stories for the book, drawing additional material from the transcripts of tape recordings he prepared for every article.

The book also is expansive in geographic scope, from the headwaters near Solon Springs and east of Cable (the Namekagon River) to the confluence of St. Croix and Mississippi rivers at Prescott.

"As a national park ranger working on the river as these stories unfolded, I was surprised by how much I learned," Erickson remarks. "No matter the event or the location, Buz was there to describe what happened and reveal what went on behind the scenes."

"I want to make clear that the book is not a travel guide, or accounts of my personal experiences with the riverway," Swerkstrom says. "Essentially, it's a record of most of the important riverway-related happenings up to 2010. Most of it is reporting about recreation, research projects, management meetings, the response to the zebra mussel problem and so forth."

The book has a retail price of $14.95 or $9.95 for the e-book version. Mail orders (Buz Swerkstrom, 2126 295th Ave., Luck, WI 54853) are $15 for one copy, including shipping, and $13 each for additional copies if two or more copies are ordered at the same time.

Swerkstrom is the author of 12 other books, including the novels "Troll Mountain Tales" and "Sgt. Pepper's Inner Groove."

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