Preserving the history of this Mississipppi River town 

and the surounding area.

We are a community-based, non-profit organization.  

Our mission is to 

 “To Chronicle the History of the Clearwater Area with intent to 

actively collect, preserve and educate.”

Clearwater, Minnesota, is located on the Mississippi River between St. Cloud and St. Paul, MN.

Clearwater has a rich "history on the river"


Crossing the Mississippi in 1856

The ferry was an important part of Clearwater's rivertown history.  In 1856 the first ferry cable, a three inch manilla rope, was strung across the Mississippi.  Clearwater has the distinction of having had the longest operating ferry on the entire Mississippi River.


J.B. Bassette . . . A Wannigan

The Bassette and many other steamboats traveled the Mississippi River providing a place for loggers to sleep and eat as they worked the heavily wooded land along this section of Mississippi River. 


In the beginning. . . .

Original Landing

The Clearwater Ferry Landing is located just east of the Stearns and Wright County line. The trail is at the end of Oak Street next to the river, turn right and you will see a lovely bench to sit and enjoy the scenery. A sign will greet you with old pictures of ferries, steamboats and history of this crossing on the Mississippi.

Milestones In History

The City of Clearwater was incorporated as a village on February 26, 1857. A typical New England village, it was settled by Old-Stock Americans; it was platted in 1855 and 1856 for the owners, Simon Stevens, Jonah Talbot, and William Fellows. The Burbank Stage Company came in 1856; the post office began in 1856 with Simon Stevens as postmaster; also known as Clearwater Lake. From "Minnesota Place Names" by Warren Upham

• The first swing line cable made its maiden voyage on August 12, 1856. Since then people and livestock have crossed the Mississippi River at Clearwater in a variety of ways.

• At one time even steamboats traveled up the Mississippi to Clearwater and beyond.

• The first steel bridge was errected from a used bridge that came from near Anoka and was opened in 1930. 

• That bridge was used until April 1943, when an ice jam washed it away.

• A ferry was again put into operation in 1944, but because of the build up of a sand bar, the ferry landing location had to be moved approximately 15 rods downstream.

• In 1952, operation of the last ferry ceased because of low water levels. 

• In June of 2014, the last living ferry operator, Dennis Miller, came to this spot to tell tales of his days as Ferry Operator. 

• The next bridge, which was made of concrete, was completed in 1958.

• The new wider bridge was completed in the fall of 2017.