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Scott, Walter E. (ed.) / Wisconsin Academy review
Vol. 6, No. 2 (Spring 1959)

Leighton, Louise
Parfrey's Glen--relic of antiquity,   pp. 52-54

Page 52

Wisconsin Academy Review
                       By Louise Leighton*
                       Baraboo, Wisconsin
     The student, the trained naturalist, or the nature
hobbyist is happy when he finds a place where the earth
remains primeval, unchanged by man except for an occasion-
al path made by the feet of others who like him have come
only to enjoy and explore. Such a place is Parfrey's Glen
in Sauk County, Wisconsin, the first of 29 areas in the
state set aside officially for preservation and scientific
     Aldo Leopold was the man who persuaded the State Con-
servation Commission in 1945 to appoint a "Natural Areas
Committee." Norman Fassett, then Professor of Botany at
the University, was its first Chairman. In 1951, the
Legislature created a "state board for the preservation of
scientific areas." The chairman of this authoritative
body is Albert M. Fuller, Curator of Botany at the Mil-
waukee Public Museum. Wisconsin leads the nation in this
progressive field of conservation because these men real-
ized that some wilderness must be preserved and left un-
touched for scholars to see in a pristine state.
     It evokes an awesome feeling to hike through Parfrey's
Glen, about a mile-long trek along a tiny stream which pro-
vides music as the visitor goes in the pleasant way of
running brooks. Awe is engendered by the realization that
these rock walls towering up on either side of the ravine
represent geologic epochs when the sea covered central Wis-
consin, not once, but twice, milleniums ago.
     The vegetation too is fascinating because here are
plants which grew in the pre-glacial era. This is the
driftless area which the glacier did not reach. The blue
aconite (Aconitum uncinatum) or monkshood grows out of the
clefts and the ledges of rock, as does also the club moss.
There are patches along the banks where horsetails grow by
the thousands. The horsetail, about two feet high, once
grew as tall as a forest tree and through the ages formed
the vegetation which made coal beds.
     The visitor will not have gone far through the canyon
before he sees above him on the bank the memorial marker,
placed there in May, 1958. It reads:
  "Norman Carter Fassett, 1900 to 1954, student and teacher
  of our native flora. While chairman of the natural
* - Mrs. Benj. Leighton proves that "scientific areas"
an appeal other than for study. She is an Academy member
and Founder of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets. Sketch
on page 53 is by the author.
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