University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The State of Wisconsin Collection

Page View

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
(1880)

History of Columbia County: Chapter I,   pp. [309]-[325] ff. PDF (9.3 MB)


Page 319


HISTORY OF COLUMBIA COUNTY.
     Fox River.-This stream heads in the northeastern part of Columbia County,
and the
adjoining portions of Green Lake County, on the west edge of the high limestone
belt previously
alluded to. Flowing at first southwest and then due west nearly parallel
to the Duck Creek
branch of the Wisconsin, it approaches the latter stream at Portage. When
within less than
two miles of the Wisconsin, separated from it and from Duck Creek by only
a low, sandy plain,
it turns abruptly northward, and with a sluggish current continues on this
course for twelve
miles to the head of Lake Buffalo, in the southern part of Marquette County.
It has already
been said that in the spring this portion of the Fox receives a large amount
of water from the
Wisconsin, much of which reaches it through a branch known as the Big'Slough,
or Neenah
Creek, which, heading within a mile of the Wisconsin, in the town of Lewiston,
reaches the
Fox just south of the north line of Columbia County, in the town of Fort
Winnebago.
     At the head of Lake Buffalo, the Fox begins a wide curve, which brings
its direction
finally around to due east. From the foot of the lake, the river for seven
miles has an irregular,
easterly course, with a somewhat rapid current, to the head of Lake Packawa.
At the foot
of the last-mentioned lake, there are wide marshes through which the river
leaves on the north
side, and, after making a long, narrow bend to the west, begins its northeast
stretch to Lake
Winnebago, keeping along the western edge of the northern extension of the
same limestone
ridge, so many times referred to. From Lake Packawa to Berlin, the river
is wider and deeper,
interrupted by but few sand-bars, and runs for a considerable portion of
the distance between
high banks.   The distance from Portage to Berlin is seventy-three miles-the
river falling a
fraction over twenty-five feet. It is thought unnecessary in'this connection
to continue the
description of this stream after it leaves Berlin.
                                        WATERSHEDS.
     The high limestone prairie belt, which separates the systems of the
Rock and Wisconsin
Rivers, crosses Green Lake County in a south-southwest direction, enters
Columbia County on
the north line of the towns of Scott and Randolph, crosses the county in
a line gradually
veering to the west, and, entering Dane County in the towns of Dane and Vienna,
turns due west.
On the west, this divide has an abrupt serrated face, which increases in
boldness and height as
followed southward and westward -.the watershed itself reaching altitudes
of 400 feet above
the adjacent Wisconsin.   The eastern slope on the other hand, is, in Columbia
County, very
gradual, owing to the general descent eastward of the strata. As the watershed
turns westward,
the direction of the dip changes gradually to the south, its amount at the
same time becoming
lessened. As a result, the slopes toward the Catfish Valley are again somewhat
more abrupt,
but never become like those on the Wisconsin side of the divide.   The western
and northern
face of this divide forms the eastern and southern side of the Wisconsin
Valley continuously from
the mouth of the river to the most eastern point of its great bend in Columbia
County. Farther
north, however, the ridge continues its northeasterly trend, leaving the
Wisconsin entirely, and
becoming the eastern boundary of the valley of the Upper Fox River as far
as Lake Winnebago.
     The " Baraboo Bluffs" are two bold east and west ridges-the
southern much the bolder
and more continuous of the two - extending through Sauk and western Columbia
County for
twenty miles and lying within the great bend of the Wisconsin River. Their
cores and summits,
in some places their entire slopes, are composed of tilted beds of quartzite,
metamorphic con-
glomerate, and porphyry, whilst their flanks are for the most part made up
of beds of horizontal
sandstone, which, in lower places, sometimes surmounts and conceals the more
ancient rocks,
                                      ARTESIAN WELLS.
     The great usefulness of artesian wells as a source of water uncontaminated
by surface
 impurities, and the great success with which these wells have met in other
parts of the State,
 will render a brief statement of the probabilities of success in the attempt
to obtain flowing
 wells in Columbia County of some interest. In this respect the county divides
itself at once
4 19(1


Go up to Top of Page