Follow the development of the Mill Towns Trail.

March Meeting

March 10, 2014

The Friends group met on March 10, 2014. Joel Wagar, DNR, is working on acquisitions in order to complete the trail in Faribault between the Hwys. #3 and #21 tunnels at 17th Street with the White Sands Trail Head and Sakatah Trail. Joel and I attended a meeting of the MNDOT district 6 Area Transportation Partnership on Friday, March 14th. Joel presented for the $983,000 grant request. Construction of this 3/4 mile trail, including a pedestrian bridge over the Cannon River rates as one of the top three projects for the DNR currently!!

On the east end of the Mill Towns Trail, the Byllesby bridge construction contract was awarded to Minnowa Construction, a firm which has built many state trail bridges. Completion is anticipated by October 31, 2014. This connection between the Dakota County Regional Park and Goodhue County Byllesby Park will be very valuable. The DNR has acquired all three parcels, completing the right-of-way on the south side of the Cannon River to Hannah's Bend Park in Cannon Falls and the Cannon Valley Trail.

The City of Northfield has received a Legacy grant of $408,000 for the regional park on the east side of the Cannon River between Campostella Park and Dundas. $60,000 of the match of $150,000 by the City has been raised by Northfield Rotary Club through the Jesse James Bike Tour. The trail through this park will complete the east side connection between our communities, making a six mile round trip with the Mill Towns Trail for families and visitors.

Concerning the reconstruction of the Mill Towns State trail on the west side of the Cannon River, the DNR has agreement from the two private property owners to allow appraisals of their land. This is a first and postitive step toward development of the trail closer to the river, on an abandoned rail bed.

Emily Nesvold and Mark Thacher organized a crew of ten trail advocates who participated in the Parks & Trails Council "Day on the Hill" March 4, meeting with four Senators and three Representatives to emphasize the importance of the Bonding bill inclusion of trails which are "shovel ready", including Mill Towns Trail. Emilly attended Bike Faribault meeting where concern about connecting the trail head to downtown is tied to "improving downtown Faribault."

Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota Wants to 'Connect It'

August 11 event to promote new trail connection to Cannon Valley Trail

Cannon Valley Trail Connect It Flyer (PDF)

St. Paul, MN-July 27, 2012-Music by Pennyroyal, bike demonstrations by Erik the Bike Man and good, old-fashioned root beer floats and burgers will highlight the "Connect It" benefit by the Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota, in support of the Mill Towns State Trail.

"Connect It" will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, August 11 at Welch Station, a trailhead and picnic area on the Cannon Valley Trail. Trail supporters, families and anyone who wants to take part in a fun midsummer outdoor event are invited.

"We hope this event will raise awareness of the work the Parks & Trails Council does across the state, and in particular our current project to connect the proposed Mill Towns State Trail to the Cannon Valley Trail," said Brett Feldman, executive director of the Parks & Trails Council. "But, mostly, we just want everyone to have fun at one of Minnesota's great trails."

The 25-mile Mill Towns State Trail, which has been in the planning since 2000, will create a trail link between the Cannon Valley Trail (at Cannon Falls) and the Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail (at Faribault). So, once complete, people can enjoy a trail ride from Red Wing to Mankato, MN. The Mill Towns Trail will go through several towns-Faribault, Dundas, Northfield, Waterford, Randolph and Cannon Falls-that were once home to 30 mills, an important part of Minnesota history.

The Parks & Trails Council is working to secure land for a critical segment of the Mill Towns Trail that will link the Cannon Valley Trail to Lake Byllesby Regional Park. With this land, now in private hands, the trail can follow a scenic route next to the river. Otherwise, that part of the trail will run next to U.S. Highway 52 and MN Highway 19.

The Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota is a grassroots membership organization that has worked vigorously on behalf of Minnesota's parks and trails since 1954. Fueled by charitable contributions from individuals, foundations and corporations, the Parks & Trails Council has been instrumental in adding more than 10,000 acres of land valued at $31 million to key areas within the state's vast network of parks and trails. The 3,400-member-strong organization has become the state's most powerful voice for parks and trails thanks to its working relationships with grassroots community groups, legislators and local governments from throughout the state.

"Connect It" Benefit Party

Saturday, August 11, 11 a.m.–3 p.m.

Cannon Valley State Trail Welch Station, 26674 144th Ave Way, Welch, MN

March Meeting Minutes

May 3, 2012

Minutes from March meeting:

* Steve Hennessy, DNR, reported that there is some movement on the work with Canadian Pacific, between Dundas and Faribault. He has been talking with Union Pacific about shared right-of-way from Waterford to Dakota County Regional Park at Lake Byllesby. He expresses little optimism about this route.

* Environmental work on the bridge at Lake Byllesby, connecting the Goodhue and Dakota County Parks is taking lots of Steve's time. The trail from Cannon Falls (Hannah's Bend Park) will go under #52 at the Cannon River. We discussed the CapX20-20 power line which will cross the Mill Towns State Trail at some point.

* Steve is in discussion with property owners to route the trail from 4th & Prairie to Waterford Bridge.

* Mayor Glenn Switzer said that the east side Trail between Northfield and Dundas has had some positive responses from the Army Corps of Engineers. Northfield has a second Legacy grant for this development.

* Glenn presented the plans for the Dundas Trail Head kiosk, to be built this spring. Six panels will show information - map, history, resources, Watershed, etc.

* Glenn announced the June 30th celebration of Historical Dundas, hopefully dedicating the kiosk. There will be a three mile kids bike tour, food, music, old cars, etc.

* Neil Lutsky, Peggy Prowe and Brett Feldman of the Parks & Trails Council met with Brett Reese about the contract for soft costs on purchase of a Byllesby property. Myrna Mibus and Chair Meg Otten made suggestions about the printed materials for the campaign.

As the Legislative season evolves, some bonding initiatives are developing. The Parks & Trails Council has House and Senate sponsors for a trail bill of $26 million, including $2 million for Mill Towns Trail. Senator Senjum, head of the Senate and its tax committee, is a sponsor of the bill. Dakota County has House and Senate sponsors for a bill for the Byllesby bridge and trail accesses. Thank you to Gloria Carter, Emily Nesvold, Norm Guesshold and Ginny Walsh for helping with the Parks & Trails Council Day on the Hill, February 28. We met with Representatives Patti Fritz and Kelby Woodard, both of whom will support some of our work. We also met with Senators Thompson, DeKruif and Parry. Representative Garofalo is carrying the Dakota Byllesby bill.

Fran Windschitl, treasurer/auditor of Rice County, has facilitated the transfer of Cannon River Link Trail funds to the bank account of the Friends of the Mill Towns Trail. Thanks to John Stull for years of service as treasurer of the Friends. He has turned the responsibilities over to Gene Enders, new treasurer.


March 6, 2012

As the Legislative season evolves, some bonding initiatives are developing. The Parks & Trails Council has House and Senate sponsors for a trail bill of $26 million, including $2 million for Mill Towns Trail. Senator Senjum, head of the Senate and its tax committee, is a sponsor of the bill. Dakota County has House and Senate sponsors for a bill for the Byllesby bridge and trail accesses. Thank you to Gloria Carter, Emily Nesvold, Norm Guesshold and Ginny Walsh for helping with the Parks & Trails Council Day on the Hill, February 28. We met with Representatives Patti Fritz and Kelby Woodard, both of whom will support some of our work. We also met with Senators Thompson, DeKruif and Parry. Representative Garofalo is carrying the Dakota Byllesby bill.

Fran Windschitl, treasurer/auditor of Rice County, has facilitated the transfer of Cannon River Link Trail funds to the bank account of the Friends of the Mill Towns Trail. Thanks to John Stull for years of service as treasurer of the Friends. He has turned the responsibilities over to Gene Enders, new treasurer.

See you at 6:00 pm, Dundas city hall, Wednesday, March 14.


December 7, 2011

At Joint Powers Board, Steve Hennessy, DNR, said funding is in place for rebuilding of the Dundas/Northfield segment in fall, 2012!. Steve is working with an engineer to examine the wooden bridge over Rice Creek to see if it will hold an ambulance.

Steve is doing the environmental review of the Byllesby bridge area. The Parks & Trails Council is working on property acquisition on the eastern end of the Mill Towns Trail. Goodhue County will have the bridge design done by April.

Glenn Switzer says Dundas is ready for bids on the trail head development and expects construction in spring, 2012.

We talked about the annual meeting on Jan. 11, 5:30 PM at Glenn and Michelle's, Dundas.

Suzie Nakasian talked about the strategic plan now being developed at Carleton, perhaps having a bigger view of the Northfield to Waterford route for the Mill Towns Trail. Some negotiations on route are taking place.

Allison Watkins is eager to hand over staffing of the Joint Powers to John McCarthy, Dundas administrator, as Glenn Switzer becomes chairman for 2012.

John Stull gave Gene and Peg Enders a thorough review of the Friends' treasurer job which they are taking on. Actual transfer of signatures and stuff will be in mid February.

Strong Towns Movement

November 29, 2011

Next Tuesday, Nov. 29, Chuck Marohn, Executive Director of Strong Towns will be talking to the City Council about that national program that encourages Cities to pursue pedestrian centered (rather than automobile-centered) planning and land use. This initiative which has important implications for transit planning and infrastructure, More information on the program is available on their website The public is welcome to attend this presentation which will be held tonight from 7:00 - approximately 7:30 p.m. The presentation can also be streamed live and is available via this link: KYMN Online Stream


November 9, 2011

Chair Meg Otten welcomed Northfield City Councilor Erica Zweifel who brought a wealth of maps of Northfield transportation connections. The TIGER grant application for $1 million, matched by Northfield $500,000, would connect east and west sides with trails using the underpass under #3. Erica also invited our group to participate in 2 presentations that will be made to the City Council this month. First,the MN Complete Streets initiative will be presented on Nov. 22nd. Second, Strong Towns will follow on Nov. 29. In addition, the Streetscape group is looking for comments on the Gateways project and will be holding a meeting on Nov. 21. The Friends group voted to send a letter of support for the Complete Streets guidelines to be implemented by the City of Northfield.

Steve Hennessy, DNR real estate specialist, reported on acquisition possibilities leaving Dundas, connecting to Faribault, the completion of the Faribault underpass on #3 and trail development there. On the Cannon Falls end of the Trail, a "bowstring" bridge structure is under consideration. Engineering is underway and will determine the most practical design. The Byllesby dam reconstruction may help speed the bridge and bring down its cost.

The Northfield - Dundas Mill Towns Trail segment has been transferred to State ownership. Renovation was discussed. $150,000 in Federal Recreational Trail money has been assigned. Another $150,00 is needed. $50,000 of that is dedicated from the Friends.

The engineering has been done on the Cannon River Bridge in Faribault to connect from 17th Street to the Sakatah Trail Head. Funding is needed - $1,000,000. Peggy reported on a recent meeting of the Parks and Trails Council legislative committee. Bonding requests for the bridge over the Cannon River, land acquisition and trail connections to the planned bridge over Lake Byllsby are being considered.

Wednesday, Jan. 11 is the date of the Mill Towns State Trail Friends Annual meeting/potluck.

Board Meeting

September 14, 2011

Thank you to the many volunteers who helped with the Rotary Jesse James Bike Tour. Your efforts are greatly appreciated - help raise funds for the trails and Safe-Routes-To-School of Northfield.

The Mill Towns Trail is poised to seek bonding or Legacy or LCCMR funding in 2012 for three projects:

  • The Dakota/Goodhue Counties bridge and land acquisition ($1,168,000)
  • The trail acquisition between Dundas and Faribault ($550,000)
  • The Faribault bridge over the Cannon River and trail connecting to 17th Street ($1 million)

The DNR is in the process of prioritizing their bonding requests. The Parks & Trails Council legislative and land committees are prioritizing projects for their bonding bill.

Dundas kiosk/shelter planning is proceeding. The $15,000 from the DNR has to be spent by June 30, 2012. Suggestions for the six identity boards are being sought.

Northfield's east side trail from the pedestrian bridge to the hospital office building near the Americainn is paved. Further permits from the Army Corp of Engineers for completion of the trail to Dundas are in process by the City.

A TIGER grant is being sought for pedestrian/bike access across #19 at Malt-o-Meal, across #3 at Quarterback, and under #3 near St. Olaf Avenue.

The Byllesby bridge is engineered to land on Goodhue Park land. An alternative trail connection to Cannon Falls, Hannah's Bend Park is possible.

Brian Welch, Northfield, sent Meg word that the trail head construction has been delayed and will have to go through a sequence of public meetings.

The next Friends meeting will be Wednesday, Nov. 9, 6:30 PM at Dundas City Hall. SAVE Wednesday, January 11 for the Mill Towns Trail Friends annual meeting and potluck.

The Rice County Mill Towns Trail Joint Powers Board meets Wednesday, Oct. 5, 6:00 PM at Northfield City Hall and will be discussing the trail route through Northfield.

The Waterford Iron Bridge is one of 25 potential historical sites for funding through a facebook/American Express grant process. A new bridge surface and north abutment are planned.

Friends Meeting

July 13, 2011

Wednesday, July 13 the Friends will meet at Dundas City Hall at 6:30 pm. Steve Hennessy, we will miss you.

May 11, Friends of the Mill Towns Trail meeting Steve Hennessy, DNR, updated us on the Dundas - Faribault right-of-way that he's been working on. According to the Faribault papar, the Motokazie application was withdrawn. At Lake Byllesby plans are being made to modify the dam which holds up planning for the bridge connecting Dakota and Goodhue county parks. Steve is working on transferring the Dundas - Northfield trail from the cities to the State to facilitate possible funding for resurfacing and widening.

Gifts in honor of Doug Cox have been made to the Art Trail. The Dundas kiosk is being managed by the city. Bike racks will soon be installed at the Dundas trail head; purchased with SHIP funds. Friend member Matt Detert serves on the Dundas Park Board and filled us in on both the kiosk and bike racks.

Guest Fred Rogers shared discussion by the Northfield Round Table about 15 year macro-planning for the city, including their vision for a trail route. Active volunteers have worked on seeing possibilities in a non-political framework. We expressed interest in being apprised of the group's work and Fred assured us he would keep the Friends group in the loop.

June 9 - Senator Al DeKruif and Representative Kelby Woodard met with Mayor Rossing, Administrator Tim Madigan, Joel Wagar, DNR, City Councilor Erica Zweifel, Steve Janusz, Neil Lutsky, and Peggy Prowe to get acquainted with the Mill Towns State Trail. We started on the bridge, toured the trail to Dundas, the east side potential trail. We discussed the developments of the Faribault #21 & #3 underpasses and the eastern trail extension to county parks and connecting bridge.

Friends Meeting

March 9, 2011

Meg Otten, Steve Hennessy, Gayle Henrickson, Neil Lutsky, Bob Nesvold, LaNelle Olsen, Peg Prowe, John Stull, Glenn Switzer, Erica Zweifel

Northfield Councilor Erica Zweifel reported on a recent conversation she had with Lee Theis, President and owner of Motokazieland. Bob Nesvold lives in Cannon City Township and was able to share their interest in the development. We were pleased that Mr. Theis initiated the contact and that Steve Hennessy will pass on information to him about how such parks co-exist with other trails in the state.

Steve Hennessy, DNR,continues to be in contact with Canadian Pacific Railroad.

Northfield Grassroots Transportation will have a website soon,, highlighting transportation options in town, including trails

Erica says both the transfer of our current trail from City to State ownership and the Legacy grant application by the City for improvements to the east Cannon trail will be on the Council's consent agenda, Tuesday, March 15. Meg will attend.

Steve has applied for a Federal Recreational Trail Program grant of $150,00 to rebuild the west side trail. If it comes through, he'll apply for the other $150,000 from Legacy funding and it might get done in summer, 2012.

Meg recognized the Council's difficult decision to proceed with the Northfield Trail Head/transit stop behind Walgreens. Steve envisions a canoe landing there also.

The Dundas Kiosk is in planning stages, as of a meeting last week. Eva Johnson, DNR graphic designer, met with local interests to initiate. $15,000 in Legacy funding and $10,000 in Friends group funding is available. Must be spent by June 30. Mayor Switzer is working with Spencer Jones for a master plan for the Dundas Trail Head.

Glenn requested Friends 501-3C support for an application for Mac Gimse's sculpture from SEMAC - Arts Council. Treasurer John Stull acquiesced.

Steve announced the Faribault underpasses (180 feet under #21 and 140 feet under #3) have been reviewed at District 6, Rochester, at State MNDOT in St. Paul and at the DNR. There will be no more changes and now the approvals need to be signed. Construction will be this summer!!! The design of the trail connection to the Faribault Trail Head and Cannon River bridge are complete, "shovel ready" when funding becomes available.

The City of Northfield is requesting that the footings of the pedestrian bridge be turned over to the State. The bridge is already owned by the DNR.

Waterford Township is applying for historical preservation funds (Legacy) through Dakota County for the iron bridge.

On March 24, Neil Lutsky will be participating in the next meeting of Dakota and Goodhue County officials with the DNR, concerning property acquisition for the eastern end of Mill Towns State Trail and plans for the bridge connecting the two county parks.

Next meeting, April 13

Trail Update

February 20, 2011

At the Joint Powers Board of Rice County, Mill Towns State Trail on Feb. 2, Erica Zweifel was elected chair, Glenn Switzer, vice; Carol King, treas.sec. Allison Waters is Nd. staff. The Faribault intersection has been approved by the DNR; only needs one more administrative approval from MNDOT. #21 tunnel is 180 feet long; #3 tunnel is 140 feet. Both are 10 feet tall, 14 feet wide and lit.

February 2, 2011 Notes from meetings with new Senator, Representative, and the DNR by Peggy Prowe, Friend of the Mill Towns State Trail.

At the Capitol, Mark Thacher and I met with Senator Al DeKruif and Representative Kelby Woodard. They were gracious about our trail orientation; promising to come look at the Mill Towns State Trail area next summer. Reluctance was expressed about bonding this year and more interest in Legacy funding next year for acquisition.

At the DNR, Kent Skaar, real estate head, Joel Wagar, Steve Hennessy, Steve Young, Parks & Trails Council Land Acquisition consultant, and Peggy Prowe, met for two hours. The Parks & Trails Council acquisition committee has responded to our application for the "Bridging the Trails Gap" funding with notification that the amount requested was too large. However, the Acquisition Committee will be working with the DNR for the purchase with regular foundation funding!!! Steve Young was learning the lay of the land of our trail through maps provided by Steve Hennessy.

Kent Skaar says our 2008 bonding $500,000 is safe for the time being, but should be spent as soon as possible, not saved for the Federal match for the Byllesby bridge.

Steve Hennessy has initiated a Joint Powers agreement to transfer the Dundas/Nd. trail to the State with the city of Northfield. Skaar thought Legacy funds would be available for a match for a Federal Recreational Trail Program grant to widen and reconstruct the 3 miles.

Skaar advocated seeing a formal design of the Cannon Falls #52 underpass. Also of the Byllesby bridge. It needs to be designed by Goodhue and Dakota Counties by October, 2011, if possible. By April, 2012, it will need to be in review by MNDOT for the SafTLu funding which becomes available in Oct. 2012.

Feb. 15 - Cannon Falls; Willie Root, Greg Isakson, Public Works of Goodhue County; Steve Young, Parks & Trails Council Acquisition; Joel Wagar, Steve Hennessy, DNR acquisition; Dave Maroney, Cannon Falls Development; Peggy Prowe, Friend of the Mill Towns State Trail Discussed current funding status. TE funds are available federal FY 2013 which begins October 2012. If 08 bonding is to match the TE funds, we need to be able to get the project tied up in a contract before December 31, 2012 when the bonding expires. To meet this timeline design should be done by April 2012. Byllesby Dam modifications. Discussions about the spillway, fuse plug and potential modification to the dam structure are ongoing. Hwy 19 and 52 ROW. Preliminary review by DOT suggests that with proper engineering a trail could be located within the HWY ROW from the Hwy 52 river bridge to the Goodhue County Park. Further efforts to work with river front property owners will be made. Bridge design. Goodhue County would be willing to contract the Cannon River bridge design and potentially the HWY 52 underpass. This could be a way to encumber existing bonding dollars through a JPA with Goodhue County.

Annual Report

January 26, 2011


Meg Otten, Chair of the Friends of the Mill Towns Trail, shared the following report of events and achievements of 2010.

A memorial to Curtis Peschek, who worked tirelessly on maintaining the trail, was created near the pedestrian bridge in Northfield.

Working with the City of Northfield, warning signs were placed on the Trail near the Northfield pedestrian bridge and Sechler Park.

In July the Friends and the City of Northfield dedicated the Riverside Trail, honoring Maggie Lee, who originally led the effort to create Northfield's Riverwalk.

June 30 we lost $750,000 in LCCMR funding when property owners refused DNR offers.

Federal Funding for the Lake Byllseby bridge was authorized by MNDOT. Construction will be in 2013, connecting Dakota and Goodhue County parks.

Documentation for underpasses to be built in the reconstruction of the #21 and #3 intersection in Faribault is complete.

Treasurer John Stull has completed updating the Friends 501C3 status, preserving our non-exempt status.

$550,000 in funding to buy trail right-of-way between Dundas and Faribault was included in the 2010 bonding bill; vetoed by Governor Pawlenty.


City of Northfield and DNR will work to transfer ownership of the current trail to the State. Money for resurfacing will be sought.

City of Northfield is constructing a trail on the east side of the Cannon River for 3 miles to Dundas.

The Joint Powers Board of the Mill Towns State Trail will be chaired by Northfield City Councilor Erica Zweifel. Councilor Suzie Nakasian will be the other Northfield delegate.

Will continue to encourage City of Dundas to install bike racks and an information kiosk at the trailhead.

The DNR will appraise the right-of-way between Dundas and Faribault. The Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota will be working with the Friends and DNR on the 6.5 mile connection.

Cannon Falls - 1 of 4 landowners accepted the DNR offer. We are looking for a new "landing place" for the Bridge.

Finally, great motivation for our efforts: For every $1.00 spent on Trail building, there are $2.94 in health care savings!!!

Trail Update

October 15, 2010

The City of Faribault passed the MNDOT Limited Use Permit for the planned underpasses at the reconstruction site of highways #3 and #21. While the underpasses are designed to be used by snowmobiles, discussion was held about the permits' recognition of that. With the DOT permit in place, DNR and Faribault can finalize their agreement for funding the project. Bids can be let this fall. Construction of trail on the west side of #21 will connect to 17th street. Further funding for the bridge across the Cannon River to connect to the White Sands trail head will be sought. MNDOT gives the right to decide the use of the right-of-way to the city of Faribault. This process encumbers $791,000 of bonding money before Dec. 31, 2010 when it expires.

Steve Hennessy, DNR, said that the costs of building bridges is down as much as 60% from a few years ago!!! Companies are trying to keep their employees busy. Steve has initiated discussions to take over the Dundas - Northfield section of the trail from the City of Northfield to the State DNR. Other sources of reconstruction funding may be available when the DNR administers the Trail. On the east end, some further discussions are taking place to acquire land near Lake Byllesby. Dakota and Goodhue counties are working with DNR on alternatives.

Maggie Lee Trail Dedication

Submitted by Rob Hardy on July 10, 2010

A new trail link was dedicated this morning behind Just Food Coop. The riverside trail, linking the Mill Towns Trail to downtown Northfield, was dedicated to Maggie Lee, who cut the purple ribbon to officially open the trail. Speakers at the event were Meg Otten, chair of the Friends of the Mill Towns Trail; Chip DeMann; Spencer Jones, the architect of the trail link; Mayor Mary Rossing; and Maggie Lee. After the ribbon cutting, attendees were offered purple coneflowers from Mayor Rossing's garden, and invited to toss them into the river and make a wish.

Just Food provided coffee and scones before the ceremony, and music was provided by brass from the Cannon Valley Regional Orchestra. Coffee was offered after the ceremony on the new deck behind Butler's Steak and Ale.

Efforts to Acquire Trail Corridor

July 10, 2010

Appraisals were made by the DNR, approved in St. Paul, and offers made to property owners between Cannon Falls and Goodhue County Byllesby Park, for acquisition of one mile of the southern bank of the Cannon River. The offers were not successful. While LCCMR funding (gambling money) of $750,000 ran out June 30, efforts to acquire this trail corridor will continue. We appreciate the patience of the landowners throughout this process. We appreciate the efforts of DNR real estate officers Steve Hennessey and Joel Wagar.

Celebrate Trail Segment Completion

July 6, 2010

Come help us celebrate the completion of the Mill Towns Trail segment connecting Riverside Park to downtown Northfield. The trail dedication and ribbon cutting will take place on Saturday, July 10 at 9:30 am in Riverside Park. We will be honoring Maggie Lee, who's vision and leadership created the the riverwalk that is the heart and soul of downtown. After a brief ceremony, stroll along the river that Maggie recognized was so important and participate in the Farmers Marker and the Riverwalk Market Fair. See you Saturday!

Curtis Pesheck Dedication

May 10, 2010

You are invited to help the Friends of the Mills Towns Trail honor one of our most dedicated members, Curtis Pesheck. In recognition of all that Curtis did for the trail, an oak tree was planted last fall along the trail. We will dedicate the area with a brief gathering on Saturday, May 22 at 9 am. Please join us to honor Curtis, share a few stories with his wife and family and say thanks.

Details: Saturday, May 22 at 9 am, east side of the Peggy Prowe bridge, between the bridge and the Hwy 3 underpass.

April 14 Meeting Minutes

April 22, 2010

Mayor Glenn Switzer and Peggy Prowe presented south and east trail information at the Northfield Downtown Development Corporation meeting on April 6. Joel Walinski, City administrator, covered the Riverside Park to 5th Street trail construction, 4th Street reconstruction and bike lanes, and the east river trail to Dundas.

Thanks to the seven people cleaned the Nd./Dundas trail Friday, April 16. Rotary will be sending $18,000, results of the 2009 Jesse James Bike Tour, to the city of Northfield to start paying a $100,000 pledge toward the east river trail to Dundas. This trail will be hard limestone surfaced, complete a six mile loop.

Saturday, July 10 there willl be a bike tour of farms in Nerstrand, sponsored by the local chapter of Sustainable Farms Association. More details later. At the Minnesota fair grounds, April 23,24 the Minnesota Bicycle Expo. April 29 - Bicycle Tourism Summit at Breezy Point.

Steve Hennessey had an interview with Nancy Braker, arb director at Carleton College. Other routes to the Waterford bridge were suggested. The four properties west of Cannon Falls are being studied in the St. Paul DNR office. Steve hopes to have options signed on them before the money runs out June 30.

We discussed inviting the Vintage Bicycle Group from Minneapolis to come at the time of the Vintage band celebration in August. We look forward to CELEBRATING the completion of the Riverside Park to 5th Street trail.

Faribault city is the lead for pedestrian bridge across the Cannon River and underpasses under #21 and #3 in the MNDOT reconstruction of the intersection. Those trail elements will have bids let in June, construction starting in early July. These projects will complete the Mill Towns Trail in Faribault, connecting Sakatah Trail and the trailhead on Hwy. 21 and continuing to the northern city limits.

Warning signs are up on the trail north of the Northfield pedestrian bridge and Sechlar Park Road.

The Convention Visitors Bureau heard about the Mill Towns Trail and trail developments in Northfield planned for this summer. They promised support when the Legislative bonding committees come to town.

NDDC Invites You to Meeting about Northfield Bicycle Trail Developments

April 3, 2010

Northfield Downtown Development Corporation invites you to their meeting, April 6, 8:00 am, downstairs at the Archer House. Mill Towns Trail and Northfield bicycle trail developments are the subject this month. Glenn Switzer, Peggy Prowe, Joel Walinski and Katy Gehler-Hess will be at the forum.

View the details.

Trail News & Day On The Hill

February 20, 2010

Tuesday, Feb. 23 the Parks & Trails Council is sponsoring the Day on the Hill. Starting at 9:00 AM, Judy Erickson, lobbyist will discuss the bonding bill. Forrest Boe and Courtland Nelson, DNR administrators, will discuss the parks and trails budget and the Legacy fund vision framework. After lunch we'll visit our legislators. Leaving at 8:00 AM, costs $15. Please call me if you can go. Peggy Prowe 507-301-2987

On Feb. 10, 2010, the Friends of the Mill Towns Trail met at Dundas City Hall. Northfield City Administrator Joel Walinski, Council person Jon Dennison, Dundas Mayor Glenn Switzer and DNR real estate specialist Steve Hennessey joined seven Board members to discuss the pending trail reconstruction grant application by the city of Northfield. The Board dedicated $50,000 toward the match for the grant. Feb. 16 the City Council supported the application in their consent agenda.

Clean-up of the transit hub/trail head site north of the pedestrian bridge will be accomplished next summer with Federal funds. The trail connection between 5th Street and Riverside Park along the river will be completed in June. During the summer 4th Street will have new infrastructure work and the bike lanes will be painted to standard width.

The group discussed safety signs for the Sechlar Park road entrance where the trail crosses the road, north of the bridge. Cautioning vehicles about the trail crossing is a strong concern of the Friends group. Joel Walinski thought Northfield could help, but was hesitant to commit to anything that requires ongoing maintenance cost. He also expressed a desire to have any signs meet placement standards as required by MN DOT, DNR and others.

Friends January Meeting

January 13, 2010

Joel Walinski, Northfield City Administrator, has been notified that the city has been awarded $150,000 for the Legacy grant to build a regional trail connected to the Mill Towns State Trail on the east side of the Cannon River between Dundas and Northfield. With the $100,000 commitment by Rotary (from Jesse James Bike Tours) and city construction of sewer line, this loop route will be built in summer 2010.

The Metro Council transportation group has awarded Dakota County Parks $532,000 for the bridge connecting Dakota and Goodhue Byllesby Parks, matching the grant of Federal Enhancement funds from Rochester MNDOT, district 6. Construction is planned for 2013 -14.

The DNR is ready for appraisals of four properties for the two miles between Cannon Falls and Goodhue Byllesby Park, expects them by the end of February. After review by the Department, offers may be made to property owners in April. Funds for the purchase and development are encumbered. Engineering will probably mean construction will be in 2011, ready for the bridge when it materializes.

Dakota County is applying for $1.2 million in bonding at the Legislature for bridge and trail work in Byllesby County Park.

The DNR has worked on a trail alignment between Dundas and Faribault. Application for bonding has been made for $600,000 for purchase of that property from a willing seller. Friends of the Mill Towns Trail will be participating in the Parks & Trails Council presentation to the House and Senate committee on Natural Resources Bonding Jan. 21.

Thursday, Jan. 14 an open house for the redevelopment plans for #3 and #21 intersection in Faribault will be held at city hall. Mill Towns State Trail would have two underpasses in the project to connect to the North Link Trail in Faribault. A bridge across the Cannon River would connect to the trail head. This construction is planned for 2010.

Friends October Meeting

October 15, 2009

Steve Hennessy, DNR, reported that the Metro Federal Enhancement grant for the other half of the Byllesby park connection bridge is almost certain to be awarded in November. This would mean construction in 2013. Dakota County is applying for $1,000,000 in state bonding to complete the trail connections in Byllesby Park on the north side of the Cannon River.

With the assistance of the Parks & Trails Council, property negotiations with owners on the south side of the Cannon west of Cannon Falls, are moving along. Kent Skaar, DNR, confirms that Mr. Goudy is willing to sell the river front piece. Steve says that engineering for trail from Cannon Falls, across the Wienrl property, under Highway #52 will be done this winter. Funding for these purchases and trail development was certified last bonding session, 2008.

The Friends group will submit support letters to Dakota County for their bonding request, to the Joint Powers Board for the $550,000 for acquisition between Dundas and Faribault, and to Northfield for the Legacy application for trail along the east side of the Cannon River, Northfield to Dundas. Meg Otten and City personnel are writing that grant application, due Nov. 13. Steve Janusz shared the Fillmore County/Root River lodging tax progression. Amazing what a good trail network accomplishes in tourism.

We discussed the construction of the new bridge on Canada Avenue, underpass space for the trail and preservation of the old Iron Bridge for pedestrian use. We discussed trail alignment in/around Northfield.

Treasurer John Stull will be cashing CD's to repay the City $121,086, the Friends share of the Total $1,025,449 bridge cost. About 1/3 Federal funding, 1/3 bonding, 1/3 city & Friends.

Just Foods sent a check for $424 from their re-used bag project.Thank you.

Northfield Pedestrian/Bicycle Bridge Dedication and More

July 6, 2009

Due to busy schedules on the part of Board members, the Friends Board of the Mill Towns Trail will not meet on Wednesday, July 8.

Steve Hennessy, DNR, has been in contact with the railroad about right-of-way between Dundas and Faribault, with positive results. His grant application for Metro Federal enhancement funds for the other half of the bridge across the Cannon River to connect Goodhue and Dakota county Byllesby parks has been entered into consideration. Application for MURTHA funding for reconstruction of the Dundas/Northfield trail has not made the cut. Additional funding for the Cannon Falls to Byllesby trail did receive MURTHA money.

Plans for the dedication of the pedestrian/bicycle bridge in Northfield are being made by Rotary and Artrail leaders. Please plan to come on Saturday, August 15. 8:00 AM sign-in for the art tour, 9:00 AM dedication, 9:30 AM art tour, six sculptures (and sculptors) in Northfield and Dundas with Mayors! All are welcome to ride.

Meeting Agenda for Wednesday, June 10

6:30 PM, Dundas City Hall, Wednesday, June 10

  • Steve Hennessey, DNR real estate agent, discussing activity on south and far eastern trail portions
  • Plans for Curtis Pesheck memorial tree
  • August 16 celebration of the bridge, mayors Art tour by bicycle
  • MURTA grant for repaving Northfield/Dundas Trail
  • Suzy Nakasian, member of the Northfield Grassroots Transit Initiative, sharing details about the new Metro Express bus service slated to start service in late summer and possible collaboration on a trailhead/transit hub

Cannon River Bridge Construction

April 25, 2009

The bridge across the Cannon River behind Walgreens has been taking shape this week. Lift and joining of the north and south sections is scheduled for 9:00 AM Monday, April 27. This is the result of Federal SafTLu funds, Rotary match, and state bonding. The city of Northfield has funded engineering and construction supervision. Landscaping and trail construction remain to be completed.

Curtis Paschek Memorial

April 6, 2009

Hello friends and supporters of the Mill Towns Trail-

As many of you know, we lost one of our most loyal and hard working members when Curtis Peschek died in January.

Curtis worked tirelessly to clean up the land surrounding the trail as it heads into Dundas - hauling away many truck loads of abandoned tires, car parts and trash. He was a constant fixture, with a couple of helpers, on many days and over many years. He cleared buckthorn, put up our snowmobile fence and did pretty much anything that needed doing. This included putting up our sign at a trail dedication. We are so grateful for his efforts and miss him.

We would like to create a memorial, consisting of a tree and plaque, in Curtis' honor. While most of his work was behind the scenes and he would shy away from any recognition of that work, the Board thought that a tree would be a fitting memorial to someone who worked so hard to beautify the trail.

We are soliciting donations to help purchase the tree and plaque. If you would like to help us honor Curtis, please forward your donation to:

Mill Towns Trail
P.O. Box 282
Northfield, MN 55057

Checks should be made payable to Mill Towns Trail, but please indicate "Curtis Peschek Fund" on the memo line.

Thanks for your interest and continued support of the Mill Towns Trail.


March 13, 2009

Thanks to Commissioner Galen Malecha for getting this vital issue on the agenda:

This Tuesday morning, March 17, the Rice County Board will discuss their Highway Cost Sharing Policy as it relates to bike paths and sidewalks along roads. Currently the county does not fund these facilities on shared projects with cities, per its decision last August. This is a work session and those attending can speak for two minutes at 8:30 am at the beginning of the meeting; the agenda item is at 9:10. Apparently the City of Faribault is attending. County Board meetings are in Faribault. This is a rare opportunity to speak to the whole county board about this issue.


February 5, 2009

At the Rice County Joint Powers Board of the Mill Towns State Trail on Wednesday, February 4, 2009, Joel Wagar, DNR, reported that the department has agreed to apply for two Federal Recreational Trail Program grants for Mill Towns Trail. Matching funds for both projects are in place.

  1. $150,000 for the bridge connecting Goodhue County Park with Dakota County Park. Probable construction 2013.
  2. $150,000 for the Faribault bridge across the Cannon River, north of the trail head. Probable construction 2010.

In the pre-application process, the Department did not agree to write the FRTP grant for the reconstruction/widening of the Dundas/Northfield section of trail. The Friends of the Mill Towns Trail have committed $100,000 match for this application. Council persons Jon Dennison and Erika Zweifel will request authorship by Northfield staff, assisted by Joel Wagar to apply for the $100,000 FRTP grant.

Faribault Council Person Carol King has been exploring match funding. Possibilities include working through former Mayor Chuck Ackerman in Senator Amy Klobuchar's Rochester office and/or use of the Faribault paving machine. Two projects were proposed in the Thunderhead Alliance stimulus suggestions.

All three cities and Rice County will enact support resolutions for the FRTP grant applications. There are currently five active projects on the Mill Towns State Trail.

The DNR has concluded research on the Dundas - Faribault Canadian Pacific line and it is being reviewed by the surveying department now. On the eastern end, property negotiations continue with the third and final property owner. Trail connection between Cannon Falls and Goodhue County Byllesby Park will be built during the summer of 2009.


November 26, 2008

Bridge progress: Meg Otten, chair of the Mill Towns Trail friends group, spotted engineers from Yaggy Colby at the Northfield bridge site behind Walgreens today. The engineers said ground breaking would occur Monday. They can pour concrete for the abutments until the temperature falls to zero. We don't expect the steel bridge until spring.

Joel Wagar, DNR, is working with MNDOT district 6 to extend the March deadline for completion funding for the Byllesby bridge to allow for decisions to be made by Metro MNDOT on their half of the bridge in July, 2009 for construction in 2013. We will apply for the 20% match as 2010 bonding. Joel assures me that Federal match projects usually get funded by the Legislature.

When the last property next to Goodhue County Park at Lake Byllesby is again appraised and purchase is arranged by the Parks & Trails Council real estate agent, Ric Ahern, development of the trail connection between Cannon Falls city trails and the Park can be planned. Hopefully for 2009 summer construction. Funding is in place.


November 13, 2008

At the Southeastern Minnesota Association of Regional Trail meeting today, Nov. 13, Rice County commissioner Galen Malecha heard from Joel Wagar, DNR, that the DNR engineers are currently in discussions with Canadian Pacific about what they need and our interest in their unbuilt right-of-way between Dundas and Faribault. Great news!

The MNDOT District 6 ATP has awarded the Mill Towns Trail construction costs of half of the bridge between Goodhue County Byllesby Park and Dakota County Park, east of the Lake Byllesby dam, for construction in 2013. The award is contingent upon the Metro MNDOT district funding the other half of the bridge from Dakota County to Goodhue.

The Parks & Trails Council real estate agent, Ric Ahern, is negotiating with willing landowners between Cannon Falls trails and Goodhue County Park for 2 miles of trail on the south bank of the Cannon River.

Video Featuring Mill Towns Trail Efforts

October 1, 2008

The Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota has produced a video about the Legislative efforts of citizens, including Northfielders, supporting the Mill Towns Trail. The video covers a few other subjects. NTV is showing it during October. Next week it will be on Channel 12 on Friday @ 8:05 pm; Mon.(6th) @ 7 pm; Wed. (8th) @ 8 pm.

Kevin Dahle attends Friends Meeting

September 26, 2008

Senator Kevin Dahle wrote about the Mill Towns Trail following his attendance at our Friends meeting. Here is an excerpt:

"The Friends of the Mill Towns Trail are excited about projects that may come to fruition by this time next year. I attended a meeting last night in Dundas with some of the Trails faithful describing what's next for the trail.

There are 3 projects on the horizon. A bridge will be erected across the Cannon River in Northfield near Walgreen's connecting to an underpass of Hwy 3. Some additional trail will be built west of Cannon Falls and another bridge will be built in Faribault which will include underpass access for both Hwys. 21 and Hwy 3 north of town. This is exciting stuff for trail enthusiasts. They have worked tirelessly to raise money to complete a trail providing the missing link between Mankato and Red Wing."

Read the complete blog post


May 19, 2008

Dakota County and Carleton College and Waterford Township have come to agreement about a replacement bridge for the Iron Bridge. It will be built about 200 feet upstream, west of the old one. Canada Avenue will be slightly straightened and remain gravel surface.

Randy Perkins is working toward National Historical recognition for the old bridge. The township hopes to retain it because it is one of a kind. It would make an historic crossing of the Cannon River for the Mill Towns Trail at some future date. Hopefully the new bridge will have room for an underpass on the south bank, to cross to the old bridge.

A meeting of landowners, DNR, Goodhue County, and Cannon Falls administrator took place on May 13. The south bank of the Cannon River will become trail from Cannon Falls to Goodhue County Byllesby Park with the recent bonding money. DNR personnel are working toward funding of the bridge downstream from Byllesby dam to connect Dakota and Goodhue County parks.