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Curtiss-Wedge, F.; Jones, Geo. O. (ed.) / History of Dunn County, Wisconsin
(1925)

Chapter I: Prairie du Chien and the Red Cedar,   pp. 1-6


Page 1

CHAPTER I
PRAIRIE DU CHIEN AND THE RED CEDAR
Dunn County lies at an altitude of about 1,000 feet above sea level in its highest
part. It is situated near the southern border of the first continent that was lifted
from the ocean's bed, and which extended from Labrador southwest along the
margin of the St. Lawrence River and the Great Lakes, and crossed into Michigan
and Wisconsin, thence stretching northwest to McKenzie's River..As the land
gradually neared the surface with an ever-advancing shore, it was subject to the
action of the waves, the heat and cold, and other-vicissitudes of that distant geologic
period, and the disintegration of the rock-bound coast followed, pulverizing the
formation and forming numerous beds and drifts. In the process of time these
became cemented and indurated, and the rock produced what is called the Potsdam
sandstone. That this rock was formed by the disintegration of an older rock, by
aqueous action, is proved by the ripple marks everywhere seen on it, and that it
originated in an early geologic period is gathered from the fact that so few animal
remains exist in it, and those of a simple form, namely, trilobites and two varieties
of lingula.
While the water over this region was comparatively shallow, innumerable ice-
bergs, crowded into the ocean by glacial action, and holding in their frigid embrace
the boulders and other material, called the drift, accumulated in a more northern
region, deposited their debris as they melted, which accounts for the formation that
is found so generally distributed here.
There are signs and indications that while the coal measures were forming this
region was above the sea, but that it afterwards sank and received other deposits.
Above the drift alluded to, the sandstone crops out wherever the upper strata has
been deeply cut into by water courses. Characteristic sandstone ledges may be
seen ;n various parts of the county, in particular along the Chippewa and Red
Cedar Rivers and along Wilson's and Gilbert's Creeks.
In the southern part of the county a narrow strip of the Niagara limestone may
be found, appearing above the glacial drift in the towns of Sherman, Eau Galle and
Lucas. There are no metallic ores, properly so called, in this region, and although
a number of years ago some traces of iron, and even gold, were found in the vicinity
of Knapp, causing considerable excitement for a while, there was not enough of
either metal to repay the cost of smelting, and what was found was undoubtedly
the result of glacial action. Nothing has ever been found in Dunn County to repay
the labors either of a mineralogist or an antiquarian.
Dunn County comprises 24 government townships, as divided by ranges, or 22
political towns, with a total area of 552,960 acres. The eastern part of the county
is fairly level, consisting mostly of prairie, with some marsh land, the soil being
easily worked and productive. The western portion is more rolling, and in pioneer
days was covered with extensive forests, but most of the valuable timber was sub-
sequently cut by the lumbermen, who acquired the rights to thousands of acres.
The soil produces excellent crops, and the greater part of the land is now laid out in
farms. Fish and game in numerous varieties, were abundant in early days, this
whole region being a paradise for hunters and trappers, but the fur bearing animals
and larger game have disappeared. In some of the streams, however, there is still
good fishing. There are few lakes in the county, the largest, Lake Menomin, at
Menomonie, having formerly been a mere pond used for storing logs, but increased
in size and depth by the building of a dam.
Much of the early history of Dunn County, and the Red Cedar or Menomonie
Valley, of which it is a part, is closely connected with that of Prairie du Chien, the
oldest city in western Wisconsin. Prairie du Chien was probably first occupied
by white men, the servants and agents of LaSalle, in 1681. As early as 1737 it


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