Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Lois E. Johnson
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Honoring the legacy of the St. Croix

Craig Blacklock's new book reflects on impact of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act


Craig Blacklock

Wild rice, Moose Horn River.

The 50th anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, co-sponsored by Senators Walter Mondale of Minnesota and Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, coincides with the release of the new book, "St. Croix and Namekagon Rivers: The Enduring Gift" by Craig Blacklock, the well-known Moose Lake nature photographer.

Mondale wrote an essay featured in the book.

"The St. Croix River has been part of my life for over 60 years," he wrote. "Joan and I purchased a cabin on the river bluff in Scandia, Minnesota, in 1992, near the historic Cedar Bend. It has been a source of joy and solitude for our family ever since."

He described his and Nelson's authoring the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and their elation once the act was passed.

"I remember Oct. 2, 1968, when President Johnson signed the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act," he wrote. "Its purpose statement is as relevant as 50 years ago: 'To preserve certain rivers with outstanding natural, cultural, and recreational values in a free-flowing condition for the enjoyment of present and future generations.'"

And that is the philosophy of Craig and his father, Les Blacklock, before him.

"Dad always said that there are some places that are so special that they should belong to everybody," Craig said.

Most of Blacklock's previous 17 publications, including "Lake Superior Images," "Minnesota's North Shore" and "Apostle Islands, From Land and Sea" involved time spent traveling to various locations in and around Lake Superior to capture the images.

After Craig was badly injured in a fire in 2014, his hands became sensitive to the cold, a press release associated with the book said.

"A friend suggested that he put his lifelong pursuit of Lake Superior on hold and investigate the warmer waters of the St. Croix," the release stated. "Following an exploratory trip and having learned of the 50th anniversary, he spent the next two years capturing images while paddling every mile of the St. Croix and Namekogon Rivers by kayak or canoe. Using the latest drone technology for the first time, Blacklock shows us images of these two rivers we've never before seen."

The photographs in the book capture the meandering river in all seasons, the plant life and the wildlife that live on the river, as well as the moods of the river itself. Blacklock said in an email that several of the images are the Moose Horn River, just outside Moose Lake. Many of the bird and flower images were photographed in Moose Lake.

Pages are interspersed with inspirational messages from a variety of people throughout the book.

Blacklock summed up the result of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and his hopes for the future.

"Today, we celebrate the efforts to 'Save the St. Croix,' championed by Wendell Anderson (Minnesota governor), Gaylord Nelson and Walter Mondale over 50 years ago," he wrote in the last paragraph in the book. "It is a natural inclination to also look downstream towards what our collective future could become. I hope my daughter will be able to look back 50 years from now and see that this was the turning point where people returned to learning about and trusting the natural sciences. "

"St. Croix and Namekagon Rivers: The Enduring Gift" is produced in three limited editions: Collector's Edition, Museum Edition and Signature Edition. The Signature Edition (17 by 21) inches, includes six original prints and is signed by former Vice President Walter Mondale, the press release stated.

Craig Blacklock

Great egret.

A portion of its proceeds will be donated to the St. Croix River Association.

A traveling exhibition of photographs from the book is currently on display at the Mill City Museum in Minneapolis. Walter Mondale was among the speakers at an opening reception there to a sold-out crowd of over 300 people. Peter Mayer, who provided the original songs for the video that goes with the book, performed live at the event.

Blacklock and the book are garnering a lot of publicity, with recent interviews on Minnesota Public Radio, WCCO-TV, and a front-page story in the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

For more information, visit the Blacklock Gallery on Folz Boulevard in Moose Lake or visit


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