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Harney, Richard J. / History of Winnebago County, Wisconsin, and early history of the Northwest

Harney, Richard J.
Early history of the Northwest,   pp. [9]-94 PDF (49.5 MB)

Page [9]

[page 9]
The Fox River Valley of Central Wisconsin - A Record of
Two Centuries, Commencing with the First Explorations
of the Fox and Wisconsin Rivers - The Links Connecting
the Great Water Courses of the United States - The
Ancient Thoroughfare of the Frontier and Aboriginal
Traffic and Travel of the Great West- Some of the
First Pages of American Civilization Found in Central
On one of the higher elevations of the
State of Wisconsin, being in the northern portion of Lincoln County, and
bordering the northern line of the State,
is a tract of country embracing about
two thousand square miles, nearly one-forth of which is comprised of lake,
two hundred in number, beautiful bodies of
water of crystal transparency, some separated,
others in groups, dotting the entire surface of
this large tract like the islands of the Grecian
Archipelago that of the Mediterranean Sea.
The rocky ranges and high elevations of this
region intercept the rain-clouds of Lake Superior in their southern passage,
and gather their
falling waters into these innumerable rocky
basins. These lakes are the primitive sources
of the Wisconsin River which, flowing southerly through nearly the entire
length of the
State, and receiving the tributary streams of
this great central valley, pours its flood into
the Mississippi.
The Wisconsin, after making a large deflection to the east, turns suddenly
at a point in Columbia County
 called "The Portage," and
flows from there directly to the southwest. At
this point it approaches to within about a mile
of another river, the Fox, which runs in the
very opposite direction - to the northeast-
and empties its waters into Lake Winnebago,
en route for Lake Michigan. This narrow strip,
dividing the beds of the two rivers, is a very
interesting natural feature, although its appearance is very commonplace;
for here is almost a
union of two streams, of which the waters of
the one flow to mingle with the tropical waves
of the Gulf of Mexico, and those of the other
to mix with that flood of waters which, pouring over Niagara and through
the St. Lawrence, washes the icebergs of the North Atlantic.
It was through these great arteries that the
civilization of the West was pioneered, and all
the commerce and white settlement of the
Northwest, for over a hundred years, had its
initial point in the Valley of the Fox, which
was the main entrance-way to the vast prairie world of the interior.
Two centuries ago, the first traffic carried on
between the French and the Indians instinctively followed that line of trade
which flows
through the present commercial centers of the
Valley of the Fox River and Lake Winnebago.
The French bateau and Indian canoe were the
primitive flow of that commerce which was
destined to pour its mighty volume through
this natural outlet of the Northwest.
The first record of the white man in the

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