A new website will help visitors to Marine on St. Croix find shops, restaurants, trails, parks, and anything else they need to build the experience they’re seeking.
The site’s creator, Marine resident Charlie Anderson, said he hopes visitmarine.org benefits both tourists and businesses.
“When I’m downtown inevitably I see people wandering around,” Anderson said. “They want to know what’s here. Most people know about the General Store, but maybe not about the Mill Site or HWY North, or the trail down to the river.
“I was hoping if I could put together something that was visually appealing and an overview of everything awesome about our town it would be a resource to those planning to visit.”
Although Anderson sits on Marine’s city council, he noted that this is not an official city project.
“I didn’t create this as a council member,” he said, “but as a resident.”
In building the site, Anderson conferred with business owners to see how it could best serve them. As a virtual gathering place, he sees potential for the website to strengthen connections between local businesses.
“I hope it spurs a cohesive voice of the businesses and eventually creates kind of a business association or chamber, some way to cooperatively help market each others’ businesses,” he said. “With downtown revitalization coming, Judd Street will be torn up. The more businesses support each other the more likely they’ll be able to make it through.”
The site also puts local talent in the spotlight, from poetry and film to pottery and masonry.
“I wanted to highlight our artists,” Anderson said. “[Painter] Bob White is a great example. He doesn’t have a shop in town but he lives in Marine and has a very robust online shop.”
Visitors to the site are also offered a slice of Marine’s history.
In research for the project, Anderson delved into archives at the Minnesota Historical Society, finding bits of information likely unknown even to local history buffs.
“Everybody knows the town was named Marine due to the founding lumberman coming from Marine, Illinois,” he said. “But I’ve always wondered why a place in Illinois was named Marine in the first place. As I was researching this, I was able to find out that the founders of Marine, Illinois, were sea captains. They saw the fields of prairie in the wind and it reminded them of waves.
“And here,” he continued, “there’s continuity with the village being right on the St. Croix.”
With the site designed to require infrequent updates, Anderson said he hopes a citizen committee will form to manage it, adding new business information or events as needed.
The project is a hit so far, he reported.
“The positive response has been overwhelming.”