Humble Beginnings: The Wisconsin River
As this is an EarthCache, there is no container and there are special logging requirements which must be met in order to log the find. Logs not meeting the stated requirements may be deleted.
Please park at N46 07.337 W89 09.313
From this location you will follow a path over a wooden bridge to the posted coordinates.
You are in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest.
In 1634, Jean Nicolet, a French explorer, “discovered” this area. The Nicolet Forest was established in 1933 and now comprises over 661,000 acres. There are over 1,500 ponds and lakes here with 34,000 surface acres of water and 500 miles of shoreline. Over 500 miles of fresh water streams snake through the forest. Much of this water helps to begin the Wisconsin River.
The forest features over 800 miles of trails which are open for hiking, mountain biking, cross country skiing, horseback riding, snowmobiling, and even dog sledding. Animals common to the forest include black bear, deer, wolves, bald eagles, loons, grouse, waterfowl, many species of songbirds and small mammals including the American Sables and the Fisher. If you choose to bring your own pets, you will need to keep them on a leash at all times and away from all beach areas.
The first documented exploration of the Wisconsin River by Europeans took place in 1673, when Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet of France canoed from Lake Michigan up the Fox River until reaching the present-day site of Portage. The river would soon become a major travel route for traders, trappers and loggers. Today the river is an important source of hydroelectric power and has twenty-six power dams utilizing 640 feet of the fall of the river to produce an annual average of one billion kilowatt hours of electrical energy.
The Wisconsin Valley Improvement Company, created after passage of state enabling legislation in 1907, operates a system of 21 reservoir dams in the upper valley designed to store water during high flow periods for use in the downstream power dams during periods of low flow. The reservoir system, in addition to enhancing power production, diminishes flood damage and enriches the recreational potential of the valley. This means that the water flow you see today is regulated by man.
The Wisconsin River was likely formed in several stages. The lower, westward-flowing portion of the river (located in Wisconsin’s unglaciated “Driftless Area,”) likely predates the rest of the river by several million years. Many of the remaining sections of the river may have been formed gradually as glaciers advanced, retreated or melted over northern Wisconsin. It is likely that the river sections were joined late in Wisconsin’s ice age due to the bursting of large ice dams. The resulting torrent from the released glacial pools cut large trenches through the state (one of these trenches can be see in the Dells for example) and was likely responsible for making the river one connected feature.
The Wisconsin River is the states longest river at approximately 430 miles in length and is a tributary of the Mississippi River. The source of the Wisconsin River is right here at Lac Vieux Desert.
From this location the river flows south across Wisconsin through a plain made by a glacier during the last ice age. It passes through the cities of Wausau and Stevens Point and then down through the gorge known as the Wisconsin Dells near Madison. From here the river turns west and makes its way to the Mississippi River where they merge near Prairie du Chien. From its source at Lac Vieux Desert to the Mississippi River at Prairie du Chien, the Wisconsin River descends 1,071 feet over the length of its journey.
EMAIL US THE ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS #1 and #2 BEFORE LOGGING IT AS A FIND.
1. Estimate the distance across the river at this point?
2. Using your GPSr or an altimeter, what is the altitude at this point?
(optional) Take and upload a photo of yourself (or your GPS) at the informational marker.
Sources & Permission:
Permission for this listing has been granted by:
Gregory A. Knight, CPSS Minerals & Geology Program Manager Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest
Special thanks to Auntienae for additional assistance on this listing.
Guidelines for Geocaching in the Chequamegon-Nicolet Forest can be found HERE.