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Art work of the Wisconsin River Valley
(1901)

[Part 1]


which store up the snows of winter and the rains of summer to feed the stream around which so
much of busy activity centers. But nature often overdoes things, in the spirit of prodigality, and
so the name Wisconsin River Valley has come, of late years, at least, to mean only that part of
it which lies above the famous Dells. From the Dells to the network of lakes out of which the
silver strand of the river is woven, is perhaps, two hundred miles, and it is two hundred miles
into which, much romance and reality, roseate hopes and bitter disappointments, song and toil,
have been intereaved. It has been the battle-ground of strong men with nature. The conquer-
ing of the continent is but a little way in the past. The marks of the axe and the sound of the
saw are still with us. The war of the woods still wages.
There is majestic grandeur in the solitudes of the primeval forest; it is nature's heart-
tones expressed in tenderness for those who can hear. The colours are all somber, the propor-
tions are all heavy. Even the birds of the deepest forests are quiet; the flowers are timid and
modest. The shadows of the woods are deep; the sunlight only steals in here and there, and al-
ways with the consciousness of an interloper. The man who penetrates the forest with his axe
and saw grows strong and quiet, forceful and resourceful, in the very somberness of his sur-
roundings. The forests breed a race of conquerors; the men of the woods are strong and domi-
nant men. It is that which lends the glamour of romance to the story of the passing of the for-
ests; it is that which makes the life of the prairies flat. Man seems to find no opportunity to do
things where nature has not chosen to express herself. The history of the world has been made
by the men and women who have come from the forests and the mountains. The lowlands
have always been on the defensive.
More than half a century ago the scout-line of the woodsman was thrown out into The
Wisconsin Valley. To-day there are men whose homes are within the sound of its waters who
came here then as laborers by the day, and now count the laborers who toil for them by the
hundreds. To-day there are those who came here then full of hope and ambition, who sit in the
shadows of the evening, having only dissappointment for their portion. The fickle lightnings of
fate have played as reckless a game here as anywhere where men and fortunes are the pieces
and the stakes. But in the later development of the cities and villages which stand where not
so many years ago was the untouched timber, there is being reaped the rich harvest of which
the seed was sown in the early days when conditions were rougher and men were hardier. Some
one has said, that you cannot conquer a continent with gentlemen; that it takes the ruder sur-
gery of the rougher fibre. And in a way this is so. But the very roughness and rudeness which
the conflict with the storehouses of nature demands and breeds, whether in the mountains or the
forests, makes men who are broad and strong and self-reliant, and it peoples the conquered
country with a race whose mettle is tried, and whose force is developed.
The hardy pioneers who, more than half a century ago came from the woods of Maine
and the pineries of Canada to accomplish the devastation of the forests of The Wisconsin
Valley, brought to their task the heritage of woodsman's blood from generations back, and the
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