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The history of Columbia County, Wisconsin, containing an account of its settlement, growth, development and resources; an extensive and minute sketch of its cities, towns and villages--their improvements, industries, manufactories, churches, schools and societies; its war record, biographical sketches, portraits of prominent men and early settlers; the whole preceded by a history of Wisconsin, statistics of the state, and an abstract of its laws and constitution and of the constitution of the United States

Chapter VII,   pp. 468-498 PDF (15.0 MB)

Page 468

                                   CHAPTER VII.
                                        THE DELLS.
     The Wisconsin River comes down from a great timber country to the north,
on its way to
the Mississippi, cutting through a sandstone section of country, making what
are called the
Dells. Here is a crooked waterway several miles in length, down which the
stream goes twist-
ing, bending and pushing its way along in the effort to get into more "1
easy circumstances
below. In its work of forcing a passage through the sand formation, the stream
has made and
abandoned as many attempts as does a drunken man in going home after a hard
day's spreeing.
So it has pushed this way and that way, cutting out chambers, nooks, crannies,
ravines, alleys,
and all manner of hiding-places.
     These Dells are a great curiosity, as marvelous in their way as anything
that can be found
in the United States. Until within a few years, they were not known or thought
of as worthy
of attention. Some years since, a photographer living at Kilbourn City, began
looking about
him, finding something wonderful and beautiful every day, until at last he
was inspired to take
his camera and produce pictures. Men would nut believe what he said, but
when they saw the
pictures which were the reflection of nature, then they began to be convinced,
and to express
themselves as willing to believe that there was something about the Dells
more than usually
attractive. Meanwhile, he kept on with his work, rowing up the Wisconsin
into the nooks and
crannies, setting his three-legged contrivance up, and obtaining views, which
the people began
to want. As these pictures went into circulation about the country, attracting,
through the eye,
the minds of men and women, people began to turn their steps toward the Dells
to look at the
beautiful scenery, and then to go home and tell their neighbors that the
half had not been told.
     Following this, there came a demand for boats and for boys to row them.
Then some one
said, "Why not have a steamboat on the river*-something light, quick
and safe, whereby men,
women and children can be transported from place to place as they wish, to
see the beauties of
the Dells-to enjoy picnic dinners, to get off the boat and ramble in ravines,
in nooks, in
gulches. At last, men began the building of a steamer, then another, a very
neat, comfortable
craft, which would carry about three hundred excursionists. In' the course
of time, the last-
mentioned was completed, and the former taken to Fox River; but, not content
with this,
another was put on the river. This is now upon the placid bosom of Devil's
Lake. Mean-
while, the fourth boat made its appearance, which now plies upon the Wisconsin.
So it is that
the people of the State and the United States are beginning to learn that
they need not go to
Europe to find scenery that is interesting to the lovers of nature for its
strange, grotesque
     The Dells are a narrow passage cut by the Wisconsin River through high
grounds, which,
after bounding its valley on both sides for many miles, gradually approach
and join. The total
length of the gorge is about seven and one-half miles. At the upper end,
about two miles north
of the south line of the counties of Juneau and Adams, the river narrows
suddenly from a width
of over one-third of a mile to one of not more than 200 feet. Throughout
the whole length of
the passage, the width does not ever much exceed this, whilst in one place
it is only fifty feet.
The water in the gorge is very deep, although immediately above it there
are broad sand-flats,
with scarcely enough water, at low stages, to float a canoe. The perpendicular
sandstone walls
are from fifteen to eighty feet in height, the country immediately on top
of them being about

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