Harney, Richard J. / History of Winnebago County, Wisconsin, and early history of the Northwest
Harney, Richard J.
Early history of the Northwest, pp. -94 PDF (49.5 MB)
[page 9] HISTORY OF WINNEBAGO COUNTY, WISCONSIN, PREFACED WITH THE EARLY HISTORY OF THE NORTHWEST. BY RICHARD J. HARNEY. CHAPTER I. 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 Wisconsin. 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, about 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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