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Clifton Town

Clifton Town Hall is located at 11705 County Road FF, River Falls, WI 54022; the town does not list a phone number.

Beginnings [1]

The town that is now known as Clifton was established in 1855. The founding of the town, however, dates to 1849 when Charles B. Cox, a miller by trade, was seeking a site for a dam and mill. He found an ideal site and settled in the valley of the Kinnickinnic River, in what is now known as Clifton Hollow. In 1850, Cox built a grist mill, powered by water supplied by a dam across the Kinnickinnic River. In 1852 the area was known as Clifton Mills and had a post office, one grist mill and two saw mills. The flour mill in Clifton Hollow was the first in Pierce County and farmers from Minnesota south and east of Clifton, and as far away as Cannon Falls brought their grain to be milled (History of Clifton Hollow, written by Mary Bascom Wheelock in the 1930's). At some point in the 1850's Clifton Mills became Clifton Hollow. During this time a four horse stage coach ran between Clifton Hollow and Hudson and many land seekers arrived by stage coach, living in the Hollow while buildings, on land they had purchased, were being erected. At one point Clifton Hollow consisted of a flour and feed mill, saw mills, blacksmith shop, cooperage, lime kiln, shoemaker, millinery business, store, boarding house, school, church and Sunday School, library, singing school, Debating Society and the Good Templers Lodge. In 1898 a cloud burst sent a torrent of water through the narrow gorges of the Kinnickinnic River wiping out the dam and the town of Clifton Hollow. Clifton Hollow rebuilt but another flood in 1918 destroyed what was left of Clifton Hollow. The town was not rebuilt and part of the original town is now within the boundaries of Kinnickinnic State Park.

The Township of Clifton was established in 1855 and town meetings were held in the schoolhouse in Clifton Hollow. In 1891 a town hall was built on the south side of the Kinnickinnic River in section 18. The original building stands and is still the Town Hall of the Town of Clifton.

Ice roads were used by early residents of the area every winter to transport people and goods. These roads terminated at the St. Croix River and then the frozen river became the road to the various communities along its banks. One road was on the boundary of Sections 26 and 35. It started at what is now County Road F and continued west to the St. Croix River. The other road was in the middle of Section 23 and continued west to the St. Croix River.

Logging was a large economic factor in the early history of the area. One logging road still exists from the bluffs to the St. Croix River where the logs were rafted downstream. The logging road is in section 34, it is a private road and maintained by a homeowners association.

There were several Lime Kilns in Clifton. The kilns were near the Kinnickinnic River in Sections 3 and 10. They have disappeared from Section 3 but ruins can still be found on private property in Section 10.

Private gravesites have been lost but occasionally property owners come across headstones. One cemetery is located within the township. Mann Valley Lutheran Church Cemetery, established 1882, is located in Section 5.

Devils Den is a local landmark, located in Section 13. Devils Den is an unusual geological feature. It is a canyon carved in Lime Stone. It begins as a dry run and about 1/4 mile from the Kinnickinnic River there is an 80 foot drop into a steep sided lime stone canyon. During the spring melt a waterfall has carved out a 15 to 20 foot deep cave or den under the rock overhang. Devils Den is within the boundaries of Kinnickinnic State Park.

  1. Town of Clifton Comprehensive Plan Committee, 2030 Comprehensive Plan, 2010, www.co.pierce.wi.us, accessed November, 2012.
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