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
(1880)

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


Page 111


TOPOGRAPHY AND GEOLOGY.
river valley is even more noticeable, since it lies along the trend of the
underlying strata, and
was in large measure plowed out of a soft stratum by glacial action. Where
it crosses the water-
shed, near Horicon marsh, it presents the same general features that are
seen at other points,
and in an almost equally conspicuous degree. Except in the southern part
of the state, this
valley is confined on the east by an abrupt ascent, and, at many points,
by a precipitous, rocky
acclivity, known as "The Ledge "-which is the projecting edge of
the strata of the Niagara
limestone. On the watershed referred to-between the St. Lawrence and Mississippi
basins-
this ledge is as conspicuous and continuous as at other points, so,.that
we have here again the
phenomenon of a valley formed by excavation, running up over an elevation
of 300 feet, and
connecting two great systems of drainage.
     On the east side of this valley, as already indicated, there is a sharp
ascent of 20o feet,
on an average, from the crest of which the surface slopesgently down to Lake
Michigan. The
uniformity of this slope is broken by an extended line of drift hills, lying
obliquely along it and
extending from Kewaunee county soilthward to the Illinois line and known
as the Kettle range.
A less conspicuous range of similar chara'cter branches off from this in
the northwest Corner of
Walworth county and passes across the Rock river valley, where it curves
northward, passing
west of Madison, crossing the great bend in the Wisconsin river, and bearing
northeastward
into Oconto county, where it swings round to the westward and crosses the
northern part of the
state. As a general topographical feature it is not conspicuous and is rather
to be conceived as
a peculiar chain of drift hills winding over the surface of the state, merely
interrupting in some
degree the regularity of its slopes   There will be occasion to return to
this feature in our
discussion of the drift. It will be observed that the southeastward slope
is interrupted by
valleys running across it, rudely parallel to Lake Michigan, and directing
its drainage northward
and southward, instead of directing it down the slope into the lake.
     The Mississippi slope presents several conspicuous ridges and valleys,
but their trend is
toward the great river' and they are all due, essentially, to the erosion
of:the streams that
channel the slope. One of these ridges constitutes the divide south of the
Wisconsin river,
already referred to. Another of these, conspicuous by reason of its narrowness
and sharpness,
lies between the Kickapoo and the Mississippi, and extends through Crawford,
Vernon and
Monroe counties. Still another is formed by the quartzite ranges of Sauk
county and others
of less prominence give a highly diversified chaiacter to the slope.
     Scattered over the surface of the state are prominent hills, some swelling
upward into rounded
domes, some rising symmetrically into conical peaks, some ascending precipitously
into castel-
lated towers, and some reaching prominence without regard to beauty of form
or convenience of
description. A part of these hills were formed by the removal by erosion
of the surroundin
strata, and a part by-the eaping up of drift material by the glacial forces.
In the former case,
they are compo'sd-ef rock; in the latter, of clay, sand, gravel and bowlders.
The two forms
are often combined.  The highest peak in the southwestern part of the state
is the West
Blue mound, which is i,I5P feet above Lake Michigan; in the eastern part,
Lapham's peak, 824
feet, and in the central part, Rib hill, 1263 feet. The crest of Penokee
range in the northern
part of the state rises i,ooo feet, and upwards, above Lake Michigan.
    The drainage systems correspond in general to these topograpical features,
though several
minor eccentricities are to be observed. The streams of the Lake Superior
system plunge
rapidly down their steep slopes, forming numerous falls, some of them possessing
great beauty,
prominent among which are those of the Montreal river. On the southern slope,
the rivers, in the
upper portion of their courses, likewise descend rapidly, though less so,
producing a succession
of' rapids and cascades, and an occasional cataract. In the lower part of
their courses, the
liii


Go up to Top of Page