A Retreat for Railroad Tycoons
Sometimes it’s hard to believe the amount of History in our own backyard! Who knew that nestled just north of the beautiful little river town of St. Croix Falls laid one of the more historic pieces of property in Wisconsin? Purchased around 1914 by a group of businessmen (including the likes of Horace “Gokey” Thompson, Allan Siems, and Claude Siems), Big Rock Creek Trout Farm held Trout Farm license #10 in the state of Wisconsin. The trout living in Big Rock Creek supply many of the streams that are so popular out west! How did they get there?
Big Rock Creek began with the upper echelons of America who built the US railroads, started the oil companies, defined the separate states; Rothschilds, Vanderbilts, amongst more businessmen coming together to be surrounded by other elite leaders. In 1886, they named it “Big Rock Creek Trout Club”, as there is a natural trout population there in which they created a commercial trout hatchery. The 3 mile creek was hand placed with stones to maintain the sanctuary that became their getaway.
In the early 1920’s the Siems brothers were building what would become historic railroads with James J. Hill. At that time, the Siems brothers bought out the rest of the owners of the property. This would mark the last time the property would change hands in almost 100 years!
The nearly 1000-acre property offers an extraordinary panoramic view of gorgeous countryside, invoking the feeling of style and unsurpassed opulence. It boasts trout ponds, a lake and creek, a lotus pond which is well worth the hike to see the lotus, woods, and many trails. Expect a plethora of wildlife including, deer, black bear, trumpeter swans, sandhill cranes, mallards, and much more. On top of that, have a walk to the stable where you can feed and pet the famous, Maggie, who is the friendly Scottish Highlander that has become a hot commodity for visitors at Big Rock Creek. You will see dike and dam systems, and various water control structures along the creek which were built during the Great Depression to improve water quality- trout won’t stick around or survive in warm or dirty water. In 1929, the South Dakota Department of Natural Resources purchased 500,000 rainbow trout eggs from Big Rock Creek Trout Club.
Experience the nostalgia on the 200-year-old timbers that were used to build The Barn. Originally it was a traditional barn, one of the largest barns in western Wisconsin at the time it was built. The timbers are made up from old railroad ties and trestles, and they have stamps on them indicating where they came from. It is very apparent that the Siems brothers were a generation of engineering marvels! Today it is no longer a traditional barn but instead used for many events. Nowadays, The Lyon, in reference to the train station, Gare De Lyon, has come to be the main attraction for all Big Rock Creek visitors.. Other than Maggie of course.
Relax on the massive wrap around porch of The Clubhouse. This larger cabin sleeps up to 12 people and is located conveniently near The Barn with a view of the lake. You can have a rest on the hanging bed or play a game of checkers in the shade. It is adorned with big game mounts from Africa. The story goes that the mounts were obtained on an African Safari by one of the Siems brothers on behalf of Mr. James J. Hill. He had asked for two of everything, and the Siems brothers kept some of the mounts including a lion on the front porch.
Elroy’s Place is a newer addition to the property, comfortably sleeping up to 8 people right next to the lake. Most often, parents of the bride or groom stay here for the wedding and also smaller families will stay for a nice relaxing vacation. This cabin was named after the former caretaker of the land who still visits and lives close by.
The Family Cabin was built in the 1940’s overlooking the lake as a gift to one of the Siems brothers’ daughters to keep her from moving west. It has two small bedrooms, a full kitchen and one bath, and a beautiful lioness mounted above the original fireplace. The cabin displays their vision to bring the West to Wisconsin!
In recent years, many Big Rock Creek guests have visited for a family vacation or reunion, retreats, fishing and hunting excursions, festivals, and many have declared their love for one another and embark on their “happily ever after” celebrating their wedding and beautiful reception.
Over the years, minor updates have been done to the property, but its original old fashioned feel has been preserved as much as possible. Original wood burning fireplaces, timbers, decor and much more all remain on the property. Not to worry- all cabins have been updated with plumbing, heating and cooling, electricity, wifi, and insulation for a comfortable stay.
Imagine all the dignitaries that may have visited the property over the course of time! If these walls could talk, can you imagine the story they would tell?!
We look forward to your visit to Big Rock Creek!