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(story icon)1949

Wisconsin and Its Resources

by James S. Ritchie   1857


One pleasant morning in the month of June, a few friends of the author, tempted by the pleasing anticipations of hunting and fishing, left St. Paul for the City of Superior, by the way of the St. Croix river, preferring this as the most romantic route, affording them an opportunity of camping out, and ascending this river in canoes. The party consisted of seven persons, and, on arrival at the St. Croix Falls, found two bark canoes which had been sent from the lake to meet them, in charge of four voyageurs. The navigation here commenced; one voyageur, pole in hand, stood at each end, and the swiftness of the stream required them to exert great strength and dexterity to urge the light bark forward. The provisions, baggage, tent and passengers, completely filled the canoes. After leaving St. Croix Falls, no houses were seen until Superior came in sight.

The party were obliged to camp at night, and landed to cook through the day. The Upper St. Croix is a beautiful stream, in romantic scenery surpassing the Mississippi; it has its source in a lake of considerable size, of the same name. There the company landed, each man carpet-bag in hand, to cross the portage, in order to reach the Brulé, or what is called on the map Burnt Wood, a distance of two miles, up hill all the way. The voyageurs carried over the canoes and provisions, and launched them again on this narrow stream, 800 feet above the waters of Lake Superior; its width at this point is about four feet, but widens and becomes more rapid in its descent, until the canoe has to be held back by the navigators. This little stream surpasses, if possible, the St. Croix in beauty; its banks are lined with verdure, and the trees and shrubbery in many places meeting overhead, form a continuous grove, through which the clear water meanders with a gentle murmur. Numerous adventures occurred on the route, and many porcupines, muskrats, deer, ducks, geese, sturgeon and trout were obtained, and after sundry picking, cleaning, &c., they at last found the way into the camp kettle, and were considered delicacies after living on salt pork. The porcupines and the rats, however, were left to the refined taste of the voyageurs, who soon made way with them.

After many exciting incidents, the voyage terminated at the City of Superior at 8 o'clock in the morning, having started from the last camp at 3 o'clock. The shore of the lake resembles the sea-side--sand, with the surf roaring and beating on it. When the canoes were upon the lake the billows were running at least three feet high, but the little vessels being of so light weight, and managed by skilful hands, they rode the waves in safety, and reached Superior after a twelve days' trip from St. Paul.