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Steamer Sidney (1900s)

The beauty of the St. Croix River has always been best enjoyed from the water!

Back in the early 1900s, the grand steamer Sidney graced Stillwater’s levee. It was the era of moonlit excursions where gentlemen paid 50 cents and ladies 25 cents for a magical journey along the river from Stillwater to Hudson and back. Photos from the library’s John Runk Collection depict the Sidney around 1913 docked by Lowell Park, taken from both the Wisconsin and Minnesota sides of the river. 

By 1919, the steamer had been revamped into a luxurious 5-deck party boat for 2000 passengers. An article from the Stillwater Messenger in 1919 described the Sidney’s allure perfectly: “The steamer Sidney is one of the finest excursion boats on the river.” It boasted everything from a spacious cabin for dancing to a rooftop garden and even a ladies’ dressing room—a true floating paradise for its time. The Stillwater Messenger raved about the “liveliest jazz music heard in these parts” thanks to the famous Jazzule Band of New Orleans.

Today, as we navigate the St. Croix’s waters, let’s remember the Sidney and its legacy. The river’s beauty endures, reminding us that some things never change—like the joy of exploring from a boat!

These photos and many others can be viewed anytime the library is open in the St. Croix Collection Room. Thanks to the Stillwater Area Historic Newspaper Initiative for making digitized copies of Stillwater newspapers available that help us understand the events and stories behind these photographs! To read more mentions of steamer Sidney in local newspapers, go to the Minnesota Historical Society’s Minnesota Digital Newspaper Hub and search for “steamer Sidney.”

Steamer Sidney in Stillwater (view from WI side)