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Schoenfeld, Clay (ed.) / Wisconsin alumnus
Volume 49, Number 8 (May 1948)

Like a beckoning finger,   p. 19


Page 19


* "YOU MAY FIND Wisconsin in the beauty which is hers--in the sheer
drop from Muir Knoll with its
commanding view of the sun sinking below Picnic Point and touching with gold
the precipice of Maple
Bluff across the lake."
LI, A btUKeU1N1IN(i V11NQK
   PICNIC POINT, one of the loveliest recreation
spots owned by any university anywhere, reaches
out into Lake Mendota like a beckoning finger.
   Last year some 14,000 students and townsfolk
accepted that silent invitation. This year there will
be more.
   The slender half-mile peninsula-part of the tra-
ditions of this area since before written history-
was reopened to the public only seven years ago after a
long interval, and already it has regained its rank as one
of the best-loved places in Madison.
  Its natural beauty has been preserved by a series of
owners and its trees and wreaths of blooming honeysuckle
frame views of the city across University Bay to the south-
east and Pickerel Bay to the northwest.
  The famous picnic sites with handy fireplaces and logs
are scattered along its sides. It has one of the best swim-
ming beaches in the city; fishing is good in both bays;
wintertime ski trails are laid out on its little hills; and the
place is a gathering-spot for birdlovers and naturalists.
  You can get there by boat, landing at its wooden pier, or
park your car at the end of the Willows Drive and walk out
along the tree-lined path.
  Picnic Point always has been a landmark here. The In-
dians knew it well; they beat a portage road across its
narrow waist and built their mounds along its slopes. Pio-
neers camped there.   -
  Many Madison families have been picnicking there-
except while one owner closed it-as long as they can re-
member, even though it was always private property until
1941.
  Choir boys from Grace Episcopal church and from a Chi-
cago congregation used it for a camp. And students have
been watching romantic summer sunsets from its shores
in all the 99 years of the University of Wisconsin's history.
  The University of Wisconsin, which held a $10,000 option
on the Point, had been worrying for some time about its
future in the 30s. In addition to fearing loss of its scien-
tific value as a nature laboratory, officials were concerned
that the area might be turned into an undesirable resort
right at the edge of the campus.
  So, after considerable discussion, the land was bought
for the University July 3, 1941, in a complicated trans-
action.
  .The $279,000 total for the point's 120 acres is considered
a conservative valuation.
  The University turned the place-like its arboretum-
into a wild life refuge, began to use it for study, and re-
opened it to the public.
  It has permitted Boy Scouts to camp and for several
summers the Madison Girl Scouts have sponsored a summer
day camp for all city girls there.
  A caretaker lives on the Point and a list of rules for
the area's use is posted beside the turnstile entrance at the
Willows. No cars or dogs may be brought onto the point;
visitors are requested to observe the laws of the refuge and
they are urged to help preserve the beauty and cleanness
of the park. Guests must leave at 10 p. m.
                                                    19


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