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

Chapter XI,   pp. 665-697 PDF (18.3 MB)

Page 697

impression that it is a colossal living monster, glaring with accumulated
life, as in passing
its hot breath steams into his face. Amid the clanging of the warning bell,
the shrieking of
the whistle, the grinding of the brakes, the multiplied rattle of wheels,
the voices of the con-
ductor, baggage-man and brakeman,A.the din of the gradual annihilation of
trunks, words of
good bye, the thud of the fuel falling into the tender to replenish the red-hot
man of the engine,
he takes his seat in the cushioned car and is soon wrapped in comfortable
unconsciousness, and
is passively gliding, at the rate of twenty-five miles an hour, toward the
coming morning and
his place of destination. And who can indicate the magnificence of those
unlockings of the
eastern portals from the first purple flash that steals through the orient
gate, when it is but half
ajar to the full glory of the perfect day as it streams forth regardless
of any barrier.  Seen
from a car platform with the pure fresh breeze rushing against the cheek,
youth and health find
an" ecstacy in the situation that words do not express. Our traveler
arrives in Milwaukee just
as the first murmur of business has begun to rise from the busy metropolis.
He breakfasts lib-
erally and has a full half-day to attend to business before the next return
train, taking which
he is home again the same day at 5 o'clock, P. M.
     This is the manner in which the people in Columbus now'reach the chief
city of the State;
but some of our residents remember when travel was a thing far different.
It was quite another
affair in 1844, when a visit to the county seat, then at Plover, was a horseback
pilgrimage of
many days' duration, on which the solitary traveler guided his course through
the wilderness "by
the blaze." We meet on our streets every day comparatively young men
who went to Mil-
waukee from this (then) village with trams when the trip was a campaign of
fourteen days through
mud and rain and swamp and wood. The main route was by what is known as the
old Govern-
ment road, by the way of Lake Mills, Aztalan, and the junction of the Watertown
and Aztalan
roads, twelve miles east of Watertown, at which junction stood an old tavern
that many have
good reason for remembering well. Thence the road was to Summit, to within
two-miles of
Oconomowoc, when the Watertown plank-road was reached. In particularly bad
weather it was
necessary to go around by the way of Whitewater, Palmyra and Waukesha. Men
who were
on the road in those days tell us of being stuck in the mud, and, after ineffectually
until nearly night to extricate their wagons, mounting a horse and going
for assistance and being
all the next, day in getting back to them. Subsequently, travel went by way
of Lowell, and not
unfrequently it was a day's hard work to transport a load to that point.
Gliding so easily
across the country in these times, we do not realize how arduous was the
travel in those days of
the pioneers.
69 7

Go up to Top of Page