HAST Earthcache: Changing Landscape
In Wisconsin, United States
Size:  (not chosen)
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This Earthcache is inspired by one of the many interpretive signs found along the Hank Aaron State Trail in Milwaukee’s Menomonee River Valley.
The Menomonee Valley is a U-shaped land formation along the southern bend of the Menomonee River in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Glacial melt water formed the Menomonee Valley over 10,000 years ago when the Green Bay Lobe of the Wisconsin Glaciation retreated and eroded a swath four miles long and half of a mile wide. Today, it is roughly bounded by the 6th Street Viaduct near the river confluence and Miller Park stadium to the west.
A vast marsh once extended from Lake Michigan to the location of this interpretive sign. Steep wooded bluffs rose above both sides of the Valley. In its original state, the Valley provided habitat for plants and animals, supplying abundant food for generations. Surrounding wetlands collected rainwater and then slowly released it, providing clean water to springs and seeps along the bluffs. One person wrote in the 1830’s, “All the marsh proper… would, in the spring, be literally alive with fish that came in from the lake… And the number of ducks that covered the marsh was beyond all computation.”
In the mid-1800’s, Milwaukeeans filled the marsh to create dry land. The Valley floor was raised an average of 22 feet and the north rim lowered by as much as 60 feet. They straightened the river and cut canals to provide shipping routes. Businesses moved into the Valley. These changes provided jobs for thousands of people, but damaged the Valley’s natural resources. In the late 1900’s, industrial decline left the Valley an isolated and blighted area with contaminated land and abandoned industrial buildings.
Businesses, neighbors and community groups are working to once again change the landscape of the Valley by balancing its economy and ecology.
To log a find for this Earthcache, you must perform the following:
1) Voluntary (no longer a requirement): With your “Found It” posting, include a picture of you, your team, or your GPS (if caching solo) next to the interpretive sign. Please make sure not to reveal any answers in your photo.
2) Email the cache owner with the answers to the following 3 questions using the interpretive sign as your reference –
• How high did the steep wooded bluffs rise above both sides of the Valley?
• What did the Milwaukeeans use to fill in the marsh?
• What were 3 of the businesses that moved into the Valley after it was filled in?
(No hints available.)
Last Updated: on 4/13/2014 3:02:37 PM Pacific Daylight Time (10:02 PM GMT)
Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum