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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
(1880)

Chamberlin, T. C.
Topography and geology,   pp. [110]-120 PDF (5.3 MB)


Page [110]


            TOPOGRAPHY AND GEOLOGY.
                    BY T. C. CHAMBERLIN, A. M., STATE GEOLOGIST.
     The surface features of Wisconsin are simple and symmetrical in character,
and present a con-
figuration intermediate between the mountainous, on the one hand, and a monotonous
level, on the
other. The highest summits within the state rise a little more than 11,200
feet ab _ye its lowest sur-
faces. A-few exceptional peaksrise from 400 to 6oo feet above their basets,_4ut.abrupt
elevat-onsoif
more than_200_or_3__eet are not common.  Viewed as a whole, the state   
      aoc-
cupying a swell of land lying between three notable cdl ressions Lake Michigan.won
the-east, about
7feet above the meanideof the ocean, LakeSuperior on the north, about 6oo
feet abovethe
sea, and t     iof the Msisisippi        whose elevation at the Illinois
state line is slightlybe!0w
thaf iOULake.Midhigan. From these depressions the surface slopes upward-to
the summit altitudes
6f the state. But the rate of ascent is unequal. From Lake Michigan the surface
rises by a long,
gentle acclivity westward and northward. A similar slope ascends from the
Mississippi valley to
meet this, and their junction forms a north and south arch extending nearly
the entire length of tbe-
state. From Lake Superior the surface ascends rapidly to the watershed, which
it reaches within
about thirty miles of the lake.
     If we include the contiguous portion of the upper peninsula of Michigan,
the whole elevation
may be looked upon as a very low, rude, three-sided pyramid, with rounded
angles. The apex is
near the Michigan line, between the headwaters of the Montreal and Brule
rivers.  The
northern side is short and abrupt. The southeastward and southwestward sides
are long, and
decline gently. The base of this pyramid may be considered as, in round numbers,
6oo feet
above the sea, and its extreme apex i,8oo feet.
     Under the waters of Lake Michigan the surface of the land passes below
the sea level
before the limits of the state are reached. Under Lake Superior the land-surface
descends to
even greater depths, but probably not within the boundaries of the state.
The regularity of the
southward slopes is interrupted in a very interesting way by a remarkable
diagonal valley
occupied-by Green bay and the Fox and Wisconsin rivers. This is a great groove,.traversing
the state obliquely, and cutting down the central elevation half its height.
A line passing across
the surface, from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi, at any other point, would
arch upward from
about 400 to I,000 feet, according to the location, while along the trough
of this valley it would
reach an elevation barely exceeding 200 feet. On the northwest side of this
trough, in general,
the surface rises somewhat gradually, giving at most points much amplitude
to the valley, but
on the opposite side, the slope ascends rapidly to a well marked watershed
that stretches across
the state parallel to the valley. At Lake Winnebago, this diagonal valley
is connected with a
scarcely less notable one, occupied by the Rock river. Geologically, this
Green-bay-Rock*


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