We remained at La Pointe five days; the time being devoted by the men to rest, and by ourselves in procuring supplies for our journey to the Mississippi.
on the 18th September we left La Pointe for the head waters of Wisconsin river, carrying with us provisions to last us to Prairie du Chien; or, at least, until we could reach the first settlement, which, we were told, was at “Big Bull falls.” I camped at the mouth of Bad river, and sent one of my men to the mission, four miles above, for the purpose of procuring another man. He returned after dark, with the intelligence that an Indian would be down in the morning, to assist in making the portage. It was with great difficulty an extra packman could be procured, to assist in making the portage of forty miles, from the mouth of Montreal river to Portage lake. At this season of the year, the fur company employs all the voyagers to be had, in carrying goods to its trading posts in the heart of the country.
September 19. — After leaving the mouth of Bad river, the lake shore consists of sand banks for about three miles. Back of the sand hills, meadows, swamps, and lagoons extend for some distance, until the general level of the Bad river bottoms is reached. some of the meadows are regularly mowed for hay be the citizens of La Pointe and of the mission. The marl banks then approach the lake shore, and gradually increase in height to the mouth of Montreal river, which we reached on the 19th, at 11 o’clock.
At this point it is a fine exposure of sandstone, conglomerate, trap, and amygdaloid, exhibiting every indication of the most violent disturbance. The bearing of the range is N. W. and S. E. The intrusion of the dyke has thrown the sandstone strata into a nearly vertical position, the dip ranging from 710 to 850.
Following the windings of the river, the shores are made up of perpendicular walls of red sandstone, shale, conglomerate, compact trap, and amigdaloid, for the distance of three miles. At the shore of the lake there are alternations of shale and compact sandstones, the first in beds of from thirty to sixty feet, with laminae from half an inch to two inches in thickness, of greenish colored bands, from one to three inches thick, running through it in the plane of stratification, and all degenerating into “marl,” upon exposure to the weather. The second, or compact variety, occurs in layers from five to eighteen inches in thickness. The compact beds are from two to four feet thick, and show “ripple marks” between all the layers.
The red sandstone effervesces in contact with acids, as does, also,
About two yards from the lake shore the river falls in two cascades, of about forty feet each, over the edges of the titled sandstone. The cascades are about sixty feet apart. There is little or no variation in the dip of the strata as far as the top of the falls. From this point to the Upper Falls, a distance of nearly three miles, following the windings of the river, and about a mile and a half in a straight line, the banks are made up of alternations from thirty to ninety feet in width, with a depth of from 750 to 850, and in some places the rocks are vertical. The Upper Falls are very picturesque, and consist of two cascades, about forty yards apart, each cascade having a fall of thirty-six to thirty-eight feet.
As it was not designed to make a detailed examination of this region the present season, I sent the packmen on the trail, as soon as possible after reaching the mouth of the river, with instructions to camp at the most convenient spot near the crossing of Montreal river, while I remained to make barometrical observations. On hastening to reach camp late in the evening, I fortunately left the trail by a path leading to the copper mine near the Upper Falls, and by this means fell in with Mr. Whitney and corps of the Michigan survey. It was now dark, and I heard signal guns from our camp. I started without a trail, or a ray of light to have seen one had been there, through the woods in the direction of the signals. After an hour’s wandering through a very dense forest, with my undergrowth and fallen timber, in which I had, literally, to feel my way, I reached the camp at the “crossing” of the river. The Indian from Bad river had reached our party soon after I left in the afternoon, so that we had now a sufficient force to make a single portage, by which two-thirds of the time required for a double portage would be saved, as the ground would only have to be passed over once instead of three times.
September 20. — After an early breakfast, Mr. Gurley with the men started in the trail to Portage lake, while I remained behind for the purpose of seeing Mr. Whitney, and of making measurements. At 11 ‘o clock I crossed the river and started for the head waters of Wisconsin river. At the crossing, the trap is exposed in the bed of the river, crossing it in a low range, bearing N.W. and S.E.
The country ascended all the way to-day in a series of ridges, with wet, and, in some instances, swampy valleys intervening. The solid of the hills is a reddish black color, and looks rich, while that on the slopes and in the valleys is deeper, and has every appearance of being equal to any trap soil in the district. It is all derived from the trap and red sandstone rocks.
Although the low lands are now wet, yet with drainage, which might be easily accomplished, they would be dry, and fit for all agricultural purposes suited to the climate. The principal timber
September 21.– Rock creek is full of boulders; hence its name. The country after leaving camp is well timbered, with hard and soft woods of good size. On the gentle slopes, and in the valleys a good many boulders are met with; but not in sufficient numbers to interfere materially with cultivation, should the land be wanted for that purpose. It may be remarked, as a general thing in all this section, that the north sides of the hills and ranges are much steeper than the south. In many places the north side exhibits mural escarpments, from thirty to forty feet high at the base, with a slope to the summit, but always more abrupt than the southern exposure.
About four miles from camp, came to an exceeding bad tamerack swamp, and half a mile further one, to a range one thousand and seven feet high, bearing northeast and southwest, with a dip of 530 to the southeast. This range is made up of altered or metamorphosed sandstone, hornblende, and trap. The southern slop of the ridge exhibits hornblende slate, altered sandstone, greenstone, and granite. This range is one thousand one hundred and fourteen feet above the level of the lake. four miles south by east, we crossed a small stream, called “Bare Rock” river, running at the northern base of an outburst of trap through sienitic granite, bearing northeast and southwest, and parallel with a range on the other side of the stream, which is well defined when seen from the top of this range. Numerous veins of quartz traverse the granite, running, generally, east and west. Some of these veins are colored by oxide of iron, and in one of them many small crystals of galena were seen. The granite is overlaid on the north by hornblende slate. In the next two miles two other ranges cross the trail, the structure of which if in every respect similar to that last described, the prevailing rocks being sienitic granite, with the dykes of greenstone traversing it. Half a mile further, there is an outburst of feldspathic granite, overlaid by gneiss. The gneiss has a dip of 400, and is traversed by many nearly vertical granite veins from three to fifteen feet wide at different points of exposure. This point is nine hundred and fifty-four feet above the level of the lake. The principal growth seen to-day was sugar maple, with undergrowth of the same; a few oaks were scattered through it, with some soft woods; and in the swamps and low grounds, tamerack and cedar.
About seven miles from the camp of last night, we came to a deposit of “drift,” from fifteen to twenty feet high, composed of sand with pebbles and small polished boulders disseminated through it. It rests on the southern slope of a granite range, north of Spruce river, and appears to dip conformably with the rocks on which it rests.
Spruce river is twenty feet wide at the crossing place. There is a fine exposure of reddish granite on the south bank, in a hill one hundred and seven feet above the level of Lake Superior. On the north shore, at the water level, it is grey, very micaceous, and contains but little feldspar.
Two miles form Spruce river brought us to the crossing of the west fork of the Montreal river, where we concluded to camp.
Most of the route to-day was over a rolling country made up of rather low granitic ridges, with almost innumerable fragments of disintegrating sandstone scattered over it. The prevailing growth was sugar maple, with undergrowth of the same; oak, poplar, birth, and linden, on the ridges; with tamerack and cedar in the wet valley’s. Just before reaching the river, a ridge one hundred and seven feet high crosses the trail, covered by a growth of small pines. Except on the summit of the ridges, the soils is at least equal to second rate. Although, as a general rule, soils derived from granitic rocks are thin and productive, in this section they are rendered comparatively rich by transported materials, and by the decomposition of the red sandstone, which is scattered over nearly the whole route traveled from the lake to this place. The crossing of Montreal river is nine hundred and sixty-three feet above the level of Lake Superior.
September 23.– Montreal river is about twenty-five feet wide at this point, and three feet deep. It has been bridged in a rude manner by the engages of the American Fur company, who have, for many years, transported goods over this route to the small trading posts established among the Indians at Lac du Flambeau and other points in this direction. We crossed at 7 o’clock, and commenced ascending hills of slight elevation, apparently made up o granite boulders, until we reached a ridge one thousand and seventy-eight feet above the lake. One mile beyond this station we reached the summit of the highlands, dividing the waters of Lake Superior from those of the Mississippi. At least it appeared to me to be the highest point on the route. I could not verify this opinion, however, for, half an hour before reaching it, I was so unfortunate as to slip from a root
The ridge which I supposed to be higher than the one on which the last barometrical observations were made, exceeds that, as near as I could judge, by about forty or fifty feet, and I have so estimated it in the section of this route. The level of Portage lake, which we reached a few minutes before 10 o’clock, is, of course, a mere estimate, made from observing the general slope of the ridge, and noting the distance walked in reaching it.
From Montreal river to Portage lake, a distance of six miles, no rocks were observed in situ. Both hills and valleys are covered with boulders of crystalline rocks, principally granite, intermingled with fragments of red sandstone and hornblende slate. The hills are covered with a growth of small timber, mostly pine, with some maple, oak, and a few aspens, while the valleys support a tolerably good growth of sugar maple, with undergrowth of the same. Within the last two miles, a number of small ponds were seen, a feature which, through very common in other sections, had not been observed before on any part of this route.
At this point the long portage ended, and, after discharging the extra packmen, and furnishing them with provisions, we set about preparing for our journey to Lac du Flambeau. We expected to obtain here a canoe belonging to a man living on Wisconsin river. He was at La Pointe when we left, and obligingly offered us the use of it as far as the mouth of Maple river, stating, at the same time, he would send an Indian who knew its place of concealment, and would discover it to us. Early in the afternoon the Indian arrived, with the intelligence that our obliging friend had instructed that our obliging friend had instructed him not to show us the canoe, but to cache it in a new place, where we could not find it. We were thus deprived of the means of transportation upon which we had relief from the moment of leaving lake Superior. We had not left the alternative of making a further portage to Lac du Flambeau, over a region only traversed by the Indians in the winter, when the rivers, swamps, and lakes are frozen and passable, or of waiting until some straggling Indians should arrive with a canoe which could be purchased.
Fortunately, however, the men, in examining the lake shore, discovered a small canoe concealed among the bushes, and, under the circumstances, we determined to follow the custom of the country, in like exigencies, and appropriate it to our own use without waiting to consult the owner, who was supposed to be an Indian left sick at Madeline island. The canoe, though entirely too small for our purpose, being intended for only two persons, was perfectly new, and of excellent model, and by judicious stowage, it was supposed capable of answering our purpose until we could procure a larger one.
September 24. — The early part of the morning was spent in arranging our provisions and luggage to the best advantage in the
After leaving Portage lake, we passed a series of small lakes, connected by shallow, winding streams, with numerous granite boulders in their beds, and finally entered Big Turtle lake, from the east side of which there is a portage of about six hundred yards to Little Turtle lake. At this place we camped just in time to escape the rain, which had been threatening to fall all day, and now came down in torrents.
The country around these lakes, in its general features, differs from that north of the dividing ridge, in having a more sandy and lighter soil, while the conical hills have disappeared, and in their stead there are gentle swells, with dry valleys intervening, and all covered with a dense growth of hard and soft woods, showing the capability of the soil for supporting a luxuriant vegetation of a character suited to the climate.
September 25.– Turtle portage is an excellent one, over the plain lying between the two Turtle lakes. At the east end of it is an Indian village, inhabited during the summer months by one of the Chippewa bands. At present it is deserted, the band having gone north to their winter hunting grounds. Potatoes and corn are raised at this village. The soil is underlaid by fine drift, with occasional large granite boulders disseminated through it. Along the shores of the lakes, sections of drift from ten to twenty-five feet in thickness are exposed.
The outlet from Little Turtle lake is through a very narrow channel connecting it with another lake, which we crossed, and came to the beginning of what is known as “Six Pause portage.” As the voyagers had to make a double portage, we took our packs and walked on to its termination, at the east branch of the Chippewa river, or as it is commonly called the Manidowish, where we arrived at noon. The trail runs over a sand barren, with the exception of the last half mile, which runs through one of the worst
The Manidowish river at this point comes from the northeast, is deep and clear, about thirty feet wide, and winds through the centre of a broad wet meadow, with grass from two to five feet high. After the portage was made, we descended the river four miles, though probably not more than one mile in a direct line from the portage to a favorable place for a camping ground.
September 26.– The river is exceedingly crooked, and from forty to fifty feet in width from the camp to the mouth of Lac du Flambeau river, a distance of about three miles. Where the bends of the river approach the margin of the meadows, the banks are from four to six feet high, and composed entirely of yellowish coarse sand resembling very much that found on the Chippewa below the Dalles. Soon after entering Lac du Flambeau river, which we ascended to the lake of which it is the outlet, large boulders began to show themselves, some of them of great dimensions. One which was examined measured fifteen feet in the long diameter, twelve feet in the transverse, and stood seven feet out of the water. It was composed of mica slate, and studded with garnets of small size.
Just before reaching a range of hills, the river runs through what was once evidently a large lake, now elevated and overgrown with aquatic grasses. Through this the river flows in many channels, some of them fifty yards wide. This alternate widening and narrowing of the river occurs all the way to the lake. The trunks of hundreds of dead tameracks are standing in all the spaces between the channels, and give a peculiar air of desolation to the scene, only partially relieved by the evergreens on the distant highlands.
About three miles above the mouth of Lac du Flambeau river, in a direct line, we came to a range of low hills on either side of the wide meadows through which it flows, which gradually recede until they reach the height of from forty to eighty feet. One mile higher the rocks show themselves in place, and are composed of quartz rock, granite, and mica slate, with innumerable garnets disseminated through them. Dishtene, tremolite, and crystals of hemalite were also abundant in the schist. The slate dips 370 to the southwest. The rocks are in parallel ridges, the summits of which are from one to two hundred yards apart, and becoming more elevated as they trend to the northeast and southwest. The ridges are bare, with the exception of an occasional bush, and in the intervening valleys only a little coarse grass is found.
Shortly after passing this range the swamps again show themselves, and continue on either side of the river up to Lac du Flambeau. The river is exceedingly crooked, its general course being S.S.E. We reached the lake late in the afternoon, and, crossing its north west arm, camped near the old trading house of the American Fur Company, now deserted.
September 27. — From this point we had to find our way to the head waters of Wisconsin river, without a guide, or the slightest
Finding “Puzigwingis,” the name of the Indian alluded to, intelligent, and willing to impart any information we might desire with regard to the country, in order to test his abilities I got him to draw a map of our route from Lake Superior to this place, and finding it agreed in every respect with our own observations, I determined to remain in camp to-day, for the purpose of procuring from him an outline map of the surrounding country, and particularly of the part to be traversed by us. He spent about half the day in executing our wishes, and so far as I am able to judge of the whole by the part that fell under my immediate observation, it is quite as accurate as it could possible have been made by any one having no knowledge of the principles upon which maps are constructed. The only valuable purpose which it can subserve, however, is that of a guide through a very intricate wilderness, until accurate surveys are made; but even that is a desideratum in a country where there is such a multitude of lakes and impassable swamps to impede and turn one aside from a course which might otherwise be followed from a knowledge of the general bearing of known points.
Lac du Flambeau is the largest body of water we have seen in this region. It is exceedingly irregular in its outline, resembling rather an assemblage of several small lakes, united at one point by short narrow channels. It has a number of thickly wooded islands dotting its surface. The shores recede with a gentle slope, to the height of twenty and thirty feet, and are covered at some points with bushes and grass, and by a dense forest at others. The soil, like that in the neighborhood of Turtle lake, is a light sandy loam; and, judging from its general appearance, would hardly attract the attention of a cultivator. The Indians, however, who have a village on one of its shores, raise excellent potatoes, better indeed, that are usually grown, with all the aids of cultivation, in the valley
September 28.– The Pokagoma, arm of Lac du Flambeau, which we crossed this morning, is about three and a half miles long by half a mile in width. It abounds with fine fish, which the Indians take in great numbers in gill nets and with the spear. From the northeast shore of this lake a portage of half a mile, over sand hills, covered with small pines and elevated about thirty feet above the general level of the small lakes, leads to Lake Wepetangok, which we crossed in a high wind. This lake is about two miles long, and our course across it was northeast to a small channel, four feet wide and eight yards long, which led us into another small lake three-fourths of a mile long and half a mile wide, which we crossed northeast to a portage of one mile in length, leading to Mashkegwagoma lake. This portage passed over hills of the same character as those seen in the morning.
We waited sometime on the shore of this lake for the wind to subside, and at noon started across. By the time we had made two-thirds of the passage the wind increased to a perfect gale, and wave after wave, which ran almost as high as I have ever seen them in Lake Superior, broke over our canoe until it was more than half full of water and in momentary danger of sinking. By great exertions the men succeeded in reaching the borders of a small island, and we dragged the canoe into a marsh. Everything was thoroughly soaked, with the exception of my notebooks, which, very fortunately, were secured on my person. A fire was built in a spruce thicket, the highest part of the island, and we set about drying our persons, clothes, maps and instruments. As the wind continued high all the afternoon we were forced to camp on the island. The lake is about two and a half miles long and one mile and a half wide, a very small sheet of water to afford so heavy a swell. Our misfortune is to be attributed, however, more to the size of our canoe than the roughness of the lake.
September 29.– Crossed to the main shore, and made a portage of a mile and a half, to the Chippewa or Manidowish river. The trail, for nearly the whole distance, leads through swamps flooded with water almost ice cold. The river at this point is about forty feet wide, winding to the northwest through marshes like the one just passed.
Had it not been desirable to visit Lac du Flambeau, we might have reached this point by ascending the river from “Six Pause portage,” through “Cross” and other small lakes; and this was the route pursued by Mr. A.B. Gray and party in 1846, as I have since learned. I knew nothing of the route, however, until I reached Lac du Flambeau, when I learned it from Puzigwingis. It is the one commonly followed by the Vieux Desert an d Trout Lake Indians in passing from their villages to La Point, and is in every respect preferable to the one pursued by us, for persons wishing to pass from the head of Wisconsin river to the neighborhood of Mon-
While the men were sent up the river with the canoe, Mr. Guerley and myself took the trail for Trout lake. The portage is an excellent one, about four miles and a half long, and passes for the distance over a sandy plain supporting a few scattering pines. The surface of the ground is literally covered with the wintergreen, and the general features of the landscape resemble very much those seen in the neighborhood of Lac Court Oreille. About half way the portage we ascended a hill of drift between forty and fifty feet in height, with a great number of crystalline boulders and a few large fragments of sandstone scattered over it. From the top of this hill a range of highlands were seen in our rear, distant eight or ten miles, bearing northeast and southwest. From their position and course we judged them to be a continuation of the range seen in ascending Lac du Flambeau river. The drift continues on the Trout lake.
About one mile before reaching the lake, the river becomes very shallow, and is so much obstructed by boulders as to require a portage to be made. There is an Indian village at Trout lake which is only occupied, however during the summer and fall months. They have gardens for corn and potatoes at this place, through their principal dependence for food is upon the lake, which yields them a plentiful supply of fine fish. The few Indians now here were preparing to depart for their hunting grounds. Oshtawabanis, head chief of the Wisconsin band, came to our canoe and begged some flour, in return for which he sent us a lot of very fine potatoes, a most acceptable present, as more than two-thirds of the provisions which we had brought with us from La Pointe were consumed, and we had not yet performed more than one-third of our journey.
Trout lake is seven or right miles long by about four miles wide, and contains a number of small islands. It is surrounded by drift hills, from twenty-five to forty feet high, supporting a sparse growth of small pines and birch. Our course across it was northeast, to a trail leading to lower Rock lake. We camped on the trail a short distance from the lake. At six o’clock, p.m., the thermometer stood at 310 Fah., and our tent and baggage, which had got wet in crossing the lake, were frozen.
September 30. — Ice formed one-fourth of an inch thick last night. The portage between Trout and Lower Rock lakes is about two miles and a quarter in length, and runs along the base of drift hills. These lakes are connected by a small stream, not navigable for canoes. The lower lake is about half a mile in diameter. A portage of three hundred yards leads to Upper Rock lake, which is one mile in its largest diameter, and contains a number of small islands. These lakes are also connected by a small stream. They derive their name form the immense number of boulders which line these shores, and show themselves above the water in the shallow parts. The islands in the upper one are made up almost entirely of boulders, with a thin soil covering them, and supporting
We had great difficulty in finding the portage from this lake. It begins on the northeast shore, and is about two and a half miles long. Its course is nearly due east, passing a god part of the distance along in the first two miles. They are connected by a small stream flowing into Upper Rock lake, and which is navigable for canoes up to the second pond. From this point a portage of everything has to be made to Lower White Elk lake. The country passed over yesterday and to-day is made up of drift hills, from twenty to sixty feet high. The sand is white and coarse, while the boulders, which are disseminated through the upper part, were derived almost entirely from granitic rocks. The soil is thin, but supports a growth of small pine, birch, spruce, hemlock, fir, a few oaks, and some basswood; the swamps, as usual, being filled with tamerack, or , where that is wanting, over run with cranberry bushes.
Lower White Elk lake, where we camped, is about three quarters of a mile long, and a quarter of a mile wide. Here we found a number of deserted wigwams and the remains of a garden. The lake affords great numbers of fish, and the quantity of their remains scattered around shows they are the principal article of food among the Indians who occasionally inhabit it.
October 1.– A very heavy frost this morning; the thermometer standing at 250 Fah. at half past six o’clock, we crossed first White Elk lake, and, by a stream twenty feet wide and a quarter of a mile long, passed into second White Elk lake, which is about two miles long and one mile wide. From this we passed into third White Elk lake, by a river ten yards wide, and three hundred yards long. This lake is nearly circular, and about one mile in diameter. It is very shallow, not having a depth of more than three feet at any point, with a mud bottom. We noticed here a phenomenon, not hitherto observed in any of the great number of small lakes we have seen in the territory. The whole surface of the lake was covered with bubbles of light carburetted hydrogen gas, which was constantly ascending from the bottom.
From this lake, a portage of a quarter of a mile brought us to the fourth White Elk lake. The portage leads due east, over drift, covered with a better soil than any met with for several days past. It supports a tolerably good growth of sugar maple, birch, oak, poplar, and a few pines. This lake is a beautiful sheet of water, about one mile long and three-fourths of a mile wide. The bottom is covered with pebbles and the shores with boulders, some of which are very large; one of them being over fifty feet in circumference. This is the source of the east or Manidowish branch of Chippewa rivers; all the lakes and streams beyond this point, which send their waters to the Mississippi, being tributaries of the Wisconsin. The hills, bounding the north and east shores, are about one hundred and fifty feet high, and are composed of white sand, and occasional boulders scattered over the surface. Almost all
The portage to the head waters of Wisconsin river starts due-east from this lake. In about half a mile the trail divides, the left hand branch leading directly to Vieux Desert lake, the other to a small lake which discharges its waters into the Wisconsin, about ten miles in a direct line south of Vieux Desert. We determined to take the shortest route, principally on account of the little provisions we had remaining, and the certainty that they would be exhausted before we could reach any point where supplies could be had.
The portage is about six-miles long, over a high, rolling pine country, which does not afford a drop of water, from the upper White Elk lake to within a quarter of a mile of the end of the portage, where a small stream, ten feet wide, from the northwest, crosses the path. I did not reach Muscle lake until sunset, and before I came in sight of it I heard the voyagers singing and firing guns. They were rejoicing on account of having reached a tributary of the Wisconsin, and that long portages were over for this year.
The high and broad strip of land which divides the waters of the Chippewa from those of the Wisconsin is made up of white sand, with small boulders thinly scattered over the surface. The pines with which it is covered are small, but very tall and straight, many of their trunks rising fifty or sixty feet without a branch. On some of the higher hills a great many small birch were seen; and in the vicinity of Muscle lake, the sugar maple began to appear.
October 2.– The ground was whitened by a heavy frost, and the atmosphere cool and bracing. Muscle lake, upon which we began our voyage to the Mississippi, is about one mile long and rather more than half as broad. A small stream, about one hundred and fifty yards in length, led us into another lake, rather more than half a mile in diameter. It discharges its waters into the Wisconsin river, through a small creek, from one to five yards wide, running east. The creek is very shallow, very crooked, and much obstructed by drift wood, but without a rock of any description. Its whole course is through swamps, bordered by sand banks, covered with pine. The banks have quite a reddish appearance, although the sand in the bed of the river is white. The entire bed of the creek, in many places, is covered by several species of unio.
At half-past 12 o’clock we entered Wisconsin river, which is twelve yards wide at the junction and from three to four feet deep. Its course is south for several miles, but gradually changes to southwest, which was the prevailing course during most of the afternoon. We encamped about eighteen miles below the mouth of Muscle river, although in a direct line, probably not more than six or seven miles, as the river is remarkably crooked. It is from ten to fifteen yards wide, and is occasionally obstructed by driftwood. We did not see a rock or pebble of any kind, until just before
October 3.– We left camp at 8h. 30 min. this morning, and at 1h. 30 min., reached the first rapids. They are made by a low range of gneiss and gnessoid granite, bearing northeast and southwest, and are half a mile long. The fall is not very great, but the navigation was rendered rather difficult by the great number of boulders, some of them very large, which cover the bed of the river for nearly the whole distance. Above the rapids the river is fifty yards wide, below them it contracts again to thirty yards in width.
Three other rapids occur in the distance of one mile and a half. The first one is short, but difficult to pass. The river is divided by a small island at the foot of the rapid. The channel for canoes is on the east side of the island. The second one is made up of granite, which gneiss resting on it; and the third of gneiss and horblende. In the forenoon the river was much obstructed by drift wood, and very crooked, except in the vicinity of the rapids, where its channel lay, for some distance, between the elevated ridges of rock. The country for a short distance above and opposite these rapids is open, bearing thickets of small birch, and a few stunted pines scattered through them. Occasionally, a solitary large pine was seen standing on a sandy knoll, twenty or thirty feet above the level of the river. Below the last rapids the country is made up of sand, apparently destitute of pebbles, with sandy loam on top, and supporting a tolerably good growth of pine, birch and aspen.
October 5.– Ninety-six miles (according to our estimation of distances) below the mouth of Muscle river, we came to a high range or rocks, consisting of hornblende, gneiss, and gneissoid granite. This range is about one hundred and fifty feet high, bearing north east and southwest. The rapids formed by it have a descent of about thirty feet in a quarter of a mile. The portage path is on the east side of the river, and is about five hundred yards long. At this place we found a squaw with a quantity of dried fish, a most fortunate circumstance, as we had had no meat for the last two days, and the men had been unsuccessful in their attempts to spear fish.
On a small prairie, half a mile form these rapids, I measured a granite boulder seventy-eight feet in circumference, and ten feet high.
The rocks continued to show themselves until, ten miles below
The average width of the river yesterday was from forty to fifty yards. The banks were of sand, from ten to thirty feet in height, and exhibition, at some points, extensive slides, similar to those seen on the Chippewa, below the dalles of that river.
I made an excursion into the country yesterday, commencing at the foot of a large island, the first one of any size met with in descending the river. I proceeded directly west, and found the country to present a succession of low ridges and tamerack swamps. The ridges are sandy, with a thin soil, and from a quarter to half a mile wide. On the more elevated grounds are some first rate pines, and a great number of second rate one. I also noticed a greater number of large white birch than I have met with in any other part of the district.
A few miles south of this, the Kewaykwodo portage begins. It passes, for some distance, over a rolling sandy country, which is the general character of the region bordering the river for some miles above and below the beginning of the portage. A narrow strip of small pines lines the banks of the river at intervals; but, as you recede into the country, there are few trees of any size to be seen. clumps of very small birch and pine are scattered over it. This portage leads to Lac du Flambeau, by way of Swamp Kewaykwodo, Leich, Sheshebagomag Mishekun, and La Roche qui Traine lakes. Just below the Kewaykwodo portage, the river is filled with boulders, some of which are very large. The portage may be found half a mile above the point at which the boulders first show themselves in descending the river.
The banks of the river to-day were of fine drift, generally from three to eight feet high, and resting on a bed of red clay, the thickness of which is not known, as it only rises from twelve to eighteen inches above the water level. It is stratified, exceeding compact, and in seams about an inch thick. some of the ridges, sections of which are made by the river, are from fifty to sixty feet high, and composed entirely of sand, with pebbles and a few small boulders near the top.
October 6.– About eight miles below the last high range, we came to one about one hundred and fifty feet high, composed of the same kind of rocks–sienite and hornblende. The rapids at this place are half a mile long, with an island dividing them at the lower end. At the foot of the island the water falls two and a half feet perpendicular. There is a portage path on the east side of the river. One canoe, however, descended the rapids without much difficulty.
There is a succession of small rapids for the next four mile, the rocks showing themselves in the borders of the river, at short intervals, the whole distance. The river is very shallow, very wide and the bed covered with boulders, many of which are from thirty to fifty feet in circumference. In the afternoon, we reached a
October 7.– We left camp this morning at 7 o’clock, and two miles below came to a low range of tap rocks, bearing northeast and southwest, and making rapids. One mile below this, we reached the largest rapids of Wisconsin river, known among the traders and lumber men as Grandfather Bull falls. A fine section is exposed at his place. The top of the range is about one hundred and fifty feet above the level of the water, which cuts through the rocks for the distance of one mile and a half. The fall of the water in this distance I have no means of ascertaining. At the upper part of the rapids the river is divided into three chutes, by two chains of rocks, which rise from ten to fifteen feet above the water, and continue for some distance below the commencement. The rocks on the north side of the range are greenstone trap, overlaid by gneiss and horblende slate, while the lower part of the rapids is made by gneiss, interstratified with mica slate and talcose slate. The stratified rocks above the rapids have a dip of 200 to the northwest. The river falls, for a greater part of the distance, in a succession of small cascades, made by the tilted strata extending across the river in the line of bearing. A few of the cascades are seven or eight feet high, but generally from two to five feet and from sixty to eighty yards apart. At the foot of the falls, the gneiss and mica slate dip 570 S. E. E.
Four miles below the falls, we reached the mouth of Skakweya or New Wood river; and, much to our joy, found a trading house established there. The person who occupies it intends opening a farm, and has already made a small clearing. We obtained from him some pork and a lot of fine potatoes. As we had been without meat for several days, we found the sour pork quite palatable. The potatoes, which were raised here, are equal to any I have ever seen.
About one mile and a half below the mouth of New Wood river, a number of springs, strongly impregnated with iron, burst out of the west bank of the river. As the springs are but a few feet above low water mark, every rise of the river carries away most
At the mouth of Copper Rock river, five miles below the mouth of New Wood river, a trap range crosses the Wisconsin, making an island in the river thirty feet high, known as “Rock island.” an island in the river thirty feet high, known as “Rock island.” This range makes dalles on Rock river, several miles above its mouth. The walls of rock at the dalles are from forty to fifty feet high, and, at one point, approach within six feet, through which contracted space the water rushes with arowy swiftness. There is a portage of twelve miles from the mouth of the river to a point above the dalles; the river is then navigable for canoes to the lake, of which it is the outlet, a distance of about forty miles. Greenstone continues to show itself in the river, without forming rapids, for the next three miles.
Five miles below the mouth of Rock river, a farm has been opened by a Mr. Goodrich, on the east side of the Wisconsin. We camped at this place, and were indebted to the proprietor for the first good summer we had had in nearly a week.
October 8.– One mile below Goodrich’s, Prairie river comes in from the east, and just below its mouth a range of horblende trap crosses the Wisconsin, having a local bearing east-southeast and west-northwest, and forming “Beaulieux’s rapids. At one point in these rapids there is a fall of four feet, affording excellent facilities for driving machinery. A saw mill is now in process of erection at this place, which will be completed during the winter, and go into operation next spring.
Seven miles below these rapids, near the mouth of Pine river, trap shows itself in the bed of the river, without obstructing navigation. About four and a half miles below the mouth of Pine river “Trap” rapids begin, and immediately below them a reddish colored, compact, fine-grained granite, shows itself in the banks of the river. Three miles further, a range of hills, from three hundred and fifty to four hundred feet high, and bearing northeast and southwest, skirt the river for some distance. They are, so far as observed, made up entirely of a greenish colored compact, petosiliceous trap, fusible, with difficulty, before the blowpipe into a colorless enamel, resembling very much some trachytic specimens brought from the Euganean hills, and from the Cantal. This rock extends to within a short distance of “Big Bull” falls, and forms the most southerly range of hills in the eastern part of the Chippewa land district, the corner of which strikes Wisconsin river in latitude 450, and about six miles above the falls.
We got to the falls a little after 3 o’clock, p.m., and having made the portage around them, which is about one mile, devoted the remainder of the afternoon to procuring supplies for the further prosecution of our journey. It was with the utmost difficulty we could procure a pound of pork, and it was only after having
The village at the falls consists of a number of very good framed houses; and from its position, with regard to the lumber trade, in connexion with the productiveness of the soil in its vicinity, bids fair to become a place of considerable importance at no distant day. An effort is being made to lay out and open a road from Green Bay to this place, which, when completed, will materially accelerate the settlement of the country, not only by affording facilities for emigration, but also by reducing the cost of provisions,which, at present, is a serious matter to new comers, who have to purchase almost everything for the first year.
One of the finest pine regions of Wisconsin enters the district at this point, from the south, and extends for some distance above Spirit river. The general character of the lands bordering Wisconsin river from near its source to the neighborhood of “Grandfather Bull’s falls” has been indicated. Below that point, from a quarter of a mile to a mile back from the river, ridges, bearing maple and other hard woods, begin and extend back into the country for many miles, while between the river and maple lands good pine is abundant.
The rivers originating in the Chippewa land district down which logs can be run, are “Rib,” “Trap,” “Rock” and “New Wood” rivers. On all these streams first rate pine abounds, and on all of them “logging companies” have been established. The country between them is made up of maple ridges, interspersed here and there with marshes. No pines have yet been cut on this portion of the district above New Wood river, but it was expected that a “logging company” would commence operations on it with the coming winter. There are from one hundred and fifty to two hundred men men engaged in “logging” on the Wisconsin and its tributaries, above “Big Bull” falls, many of them, however, being employed in the land district east of the Wisconsin.
It is impossible to estimate satisfactorily the amount of timber which has been taken from the public lands in the neighborhood, as much of it is cut by the various mills situated below “Big Bull,” but some idea may be formed of the pine trade of this regions, from the statement that the three mills at these falls have, together, averaged about 17,000 logs a year, for the last six years. As already intimated, much of the timber cut on the Wisconsin and its tributaries above “Big Bull” is floated to the lower mills, while none of that which passes down “Rib” river, which is said to run through excellent pineries, is cut at the upper mills, that river coming into the Wisconsin below that place. I was informed by the oldest mill owner at the falls, that the mills have never been
Within the last two years, five farms have been opened in the neighborhood of Big Bull falls. The principal crops so far, have been potatoes, turnips, and oats, all equal in point of yield and quality to any produced in the Union. Wheat has not yet been tried, but the “settlers” seem to think both climate and soil admirably adapted to its cultivation. The farmers meet with ready sale for all their surplus produce at good prices. Potatoes are worth this season from 75 cents to $1 per bushel; turnips 50 cents per bushel, and oats $1 per bushel. Wages in the pineries are from $15 to $20 per month.
“Big Bull falls” are made by a range of sienitic granite, overlying greenstone trap, about 30 feet high, and crossing the river with a bearing E. N. E., and W.S.W. The river is divided by an island, upon which two or three mills are erected. The perpendicular fall of the east chute is about four feet, that of the west chute about eight feet. The rocks have a dip of 240 to the N. W. Camped just below the village.
October 9.– Seven miles below “Big Bull,” a big granite range shows itself on the west side of the river, and at several other points, between that and “Little Bull falls,” a distance of 13 miles, are exposures of the same rock.
At “Little Bull” there is usually a portage made, three quarters of a mile long, on the west side of the river, but our voyageurs descended the whole rapid in the canoe, with the exception of a few years at the mill dam. There is no perpendicular “fall” at this place; it is a mere rapids, falling, it its whole length of over half a mile, as nearly as I could judge, about eight or ten feet. The rock is a dark greyish and greenish colored compact sienite. This range is rather low, the rock being elevated, at the highest points observed, only about 10 feet above the water level.
At this place there is a mill which runs four saws, It has been built seven years, and one of the proprietors informed me that the average number of logs cut in a year has been about 6,000. The trees in the pinery here average three logs of ten or twelve feet in length. The country adjacent to the river is rolling pine lands, with oak and elm on the low grounds along shore. Camped about four miles below “Little Bull.” From “Big Bull” to this place the shores are lined with logs, nearly all of them clear timber, though second rate in size.
October 10.– Nine miles below “Little Bull” a low range of Gneiss-
The country is gently undulating prairie, with clumps of very small pines scattered over it.
One mile below this we reached Du Boi’s trading house, where we expected to replenish our small store of provisions, but were disappointed, in consequence of the “fall supplies” not having arrived. About five miles below Du Boi’s, the greyish colored gneissoid is again exposed for some distance along the west bank of the river, succeeded by a very fine grained reddish granite. The rock is covered here with about ten feet of fine drift, with a thin soil, supporting a small growth of oak, elm, and aspen, on the west side, while east of the river a beautiful undulating prairie extends as far as the eye can reach.
We got to the Steven’s Point at 21/2 o’clock. The village contains about twenty very good framed houses, several of which are stores. There is also a saw mill here, erected this year. All letters for the upper Wisconsin have to be sent to the post office at this place, from which they are carried to the mills and pineries above by private conveyance.
One mile above Steven’s Point there is an exposure of hornblended slate for half a mile, succeeded by gneissoid granite, which extends for some distance below the village, forming rapids. The bearing of the rocks is N.E. and S.W.
The country in the vicinity of this place is undulating, with a tolerably good soil, supporting a growth of oak, elm, maple, and a few pines.
Two miles further, brought us to Connaught rapids. This point is exceedingly interesting, not only on account of the great exposure of rock, but also in consequence of the foldings and contortions which have been produced in the stratified rocks, at the time of the intrusion of the lower mass. The prevailing rock is a very decompoundable amphibolic gneiss, passing into a highly ferruginous mica slate, green, brown, and reddish grey, in different localities, and associated also with a very light colored granitic gneiss. These rocks all have a vertical dip, and are compressed by lateral force into almost every possible wavelike form. Between the layers of gneiss, veins of feldspathic granite, or leptynite, from six inches to twenty-five feet in width, have intruded at intervals, and, at many points, overlies for a long space the vertical edges of the gneiss. Some of the veins are porphyritic. The direction of the place of stratification N.. and S.E. Numerous veins of quartz and of feldspar, form an inch to an inch and a half in width, traverse both the stratified and intrusive rocks, and have a N. E. and S. W. direction. Camped one mile below the commencement of the rapids.
October 11. — There is a fine display of gneiss on an island opposite our camp. It is a grey colored, very fine grained, compact.
About two miles below the Counnaught mill, and about one-fourth of a mile below the mouth of Plower river, the gneiss is again exposed, bearing N. E. and S. W., with a dip of 450 S. E. There is no bending of the strata at this place, nor did I observe any intrusive rock. Below the mouth of Plower river, the drift banks rise on the east side of the Wisconsin to the height of thirty and fifty feet above the level of the water; and, at the bends of the river, sand slides occur, precisely like those seen on Chippawa river, some of which are more than half a mile in length. Very few pebbles are mixed with the sand. The country is a rolling sand plain, with a few pine bushes and dwarf oaks scattered over it.
The next exposure of rock is at the commencement of the Grand rapids about twelve miles below the mouth of Plower river. These rapids are nine miles long. Their “grandeur” consists not in cascades or bold escarpments, but in their length, and the great number of low picturesque rock islands, covered with trees, which dot the river and divide it into numerous narrow channels or chutes. The rock is a very compact feldspathic gneiss, with occasional wide veins of granite traversing it; gradually assuming a trueporphyritic character about the middle of the rapids; and, towards their termination, merging into a gneissoid granite; and, finally, at the village of the “Grand rapids,” into a fine grained reddish colored granite of precisely the same character with the which overlies the gneiss at connaught rapids. The bearing of the rocks is E. N. E. and W. S. W.
The village at this place containes a number of good houses, and, from the air of business and comfort about it, I should judge it to be a prosperous one. There are three mills on these rapids, which give employment, directly and incidentally, to a large number of men. The river banks in the vicinity are low. The country is covered with a good growth of oak, elm, poplar, birch, sugar maple and pine.
October 12.– There was a light fall of snow last night, and the sprinkling of pure white on almost every variety and shade of color of autumnal foliage, intermingled with evergreens, combined with the wooded island in the distance, the rapids with their rocky projections in the foreground, and the dense forest on either shore, to make up one of the most picturesque and fairy-like scenes imaginable.
The river, for some distance below this point, is full of rock islands, rising from ten to fifteen feet above the water level, and made up of a reddish colored rock, composed of quartz and feldspar, bearing N. E. and S. W., with a dip of 390 to the S. E.
The last exposure of granite on Wisconsin river is seen a short distance above the old mill dam, at these rapids, and extends down the river for the distance of a quarter of a mile, gradually becoming more quartzone in character, and at the point where it disappears is traversed by many feldspathic veins, from one to eight inches wide, having a N. W. and S. E. direction.
Above the granite at the old mill dam is a bed of ferruginous argillite, four feet thick, succeeded by five feet of decomposing feldspar, above which is a bed, two feet thick, of well digested kaoliln, or porcelain clay, with large amorphous crystals of quartz disseminated through it in veins, and containing a notable quantity of pyrites. Then succeeds a variegated white and yellow sandstone in their laminaie, form the sixteenth of an inch to an inch in thickness, rather coarse grained, somewhat micaceous and weathering easily. Some of the laminae are green, and the whole dips 40 to the southeast.
A quarter of a mile below the old dam, on the east side of the river, the sandstone forms a mural escarpment of thirty-five feet in height, in strata of from two to eight feet thick. On the west bank, opposite this section of sandstone, the most southerly exposure of crystaline rocks on this river rises to the height of six feet above the water, and is composed of a quartzose granite, containing magnetic oxide of iron.
Two miles below Whitney’s rapids is the foundation of a town called “Point Boss,” consisting, at present, however, of only two houses. This is a somewhat important place, in a geological point of view, as it is situated near the margin of the great sand region where it crosses Wisconsin river.
October 13.– At 1 o’clock we reached Petenwell Peak, thirty miles below Point Boss.
The country between these two points resembles, in almost every respect, that seen below the dalles of Chippewa river. The river winds through sands, rising forty and sixty feet above its level, and presenting in its bends extensive slides, from a quarter to a half mile in length. It is very crooked, and the channel rendered somewhat intricate by the great number of sandbar, which change their position with every rise and fall of the river. Not a boulder, nor scarcely a pebble, is to be seen after passing the first ten miles below Whitney’s rapids; showing, conclusively, that the forces which transported the immense numbers of erratic blocks, met with in other sections of the territory, did not tend in this direction. Like the region alluded to on the Chippewa, the country is a succession of sand plains, rising in low steppes, covered with a short coarse grass, and having a few small pines and shrubby oaks s scattered over it.
About half a mile before reaching Petenwell Peak, that huge mass of rock suddenly presented itself down a reach of the river, rising above the level sands to the height of two hundred feet, or
The base of the peak is an oval, about three hundred yards in the long, and one hundred yards in the short diameter. On the east side, the rock is almost perpendicular, and is washed at its base by the river. On the north side, a small creek comes in from the west, close to the rock. On the south and west sides, there is a very abrupt slope form two-thirds the height of the rock to the general level. This slope is made up of sand and huge fragments of stone, with small pines scattered among them. The upper third is a perpendicular wall of rock, split into towers and turrets, and which I found it impossible to ascend. The prospect from the point which I reached is very extensive, embracing an expanse of country probably form forty to fifty miles in diameter.
The general appearance of the country from this elevation is that of a level or gently undulating plain, dotted here and there with forests of small oak and pine. But on every side, as far as vision can reach, other isolated peaks are seen rising from the plain. One towards the northeast, and distant probably twelve or fifteen miles, is apparently higher than Petenwell; and others, in different directions from their appearance in the distance, no doubt equal it in height. To the southwest, on the verge of the horizon, there appears to be a connected chain of hills. In no other direction, however, is there the slightest appearance of connexion between the elevated masses, each one standing “solitary and along,” and miles from its fellows.
The rock is a light colored, coarse grained sandstone, made up of perfectly rounded grains, many of which are limpid quartz, and cemented together with considerable firmness. Some of the strata are banded with white and brownish yellow stripes.
About six miles below Petenwell peak, there is an exposure of fourteen or fifteen feet of sandstone, in the each bank of the river. Seen from a distance, it reminded me forcibly of the “pillared rocks” of Lake Superior. some of the layers are soft and friable, while others are hard, and weather with difficulty. The current of the river, which continually washes the rock, has cut away the softer layers, leaving the harder ones standing out in relief, in the shape of rude cornices into capitals, and the rocks below into pillars, so that it has, when seen from a distance, altogether the appearance of a magnificent colannade, nearly a quarter of a mile in length, with the base of the columns resting in the water. There is a great difference in one respect, however, between the pillared rocks of the lake and those of the Wisconsin. While the first, generally small in diameter and
October 14.– Nine miles below the last exposure of rock, thin shaly layers of sandstone appear just above the margin of the river, for the distance of half a mile. And four miles further, the rock rises to the height of twenty-five feet, in layers from six inches to five feet in thickness, variegated with red and yellow bands, and having very soft pulverulent nodules of oxide of iron, as large as walnuts,disseminated through some of the layers. The rocks dips 40 to the southeast, is rather fine grained, and contains a considerable proportion of greenish colored grains, not, however, in sufficient quantity to impart a greenish hue to any of the layers.
Two miles below this place, Fortification rock rises to the height of more than a hundred feet above the general level. It stands on the westbank, about one hundred yards from the main channel of the river. The northwest side, which is one hundred and twenty feet long, is a perpendicular, while it descends, on the southeast side, by a succession of narrow terraces, to the general level. The top presents an almost unbroken outline, while the front has singularly weathered, at a number of points, into semblances of windows and loopholes.
Below this place, the rocks are almost constantly exposed, on one or the other wide of the river, rising to the height of forty or fifty feet, sometimes pillared, generally mural, and with a constant dip to the “S. E. of from 30 to 40. Some of the strata are laminated, and present a very remarkable appearance; the angel formed by the joints of the laminae and those of stratification, ranging from from 100 to 230. In some of the layers, the laminae are parallel with the plane of stratification; in some they are waved, and in others oblique; in some the materials are fine, in others coarse; showing the changeable direction and force of the currents by which they were deposited. I observed strata of precisely the same character in the sandstone of Chippewa river, and occupying, apparently, the same position in the series.
At 2 o’clock, we reached the chain of hills descried from Patenwell Peak. They consist of sandstone of the same character with that seen yesterday and to-day, with the exception of the upper layers, which, for the thickness of twenty-five or thirty feet, are white and sugar-like, and when struck with the hammer crumble into sand, rendering it somewhat difficult to procure and transport specimens. These cliffs differ from those seen yesterday, in presenting on one side a nearly perpendicular face, from two hundred to three hundred feet high, while on the opposite side they descend, by long, and very gradual slopes, to the general level. They rise at long intervals, being separated by wide ravines, sparsely wooded, and distributed along the country like a cordon of forts. Many, indeed most of them, resemble, when seen from a distance, artificial works, and one who has seen them feels
Two miles further brought us to the dalles of the Wisconsin. The walls of sandstone forming the dalles are from twenty-five to eighty feet in height, and from fifty to one hundred feet apart. Between these perpendicular walls the river flows for some five or six miles, its average width being about one hundred feet.
Although it is quite as low as it was ever known, scarcely affording, in many places, sufficient water to float a canoe, in the dalles it is deep, and the shadows of the rocks give the water an almost black appearance. The current at the present stage is gentle, and often almost imperceptible, and the bed, so far as I could judge, is free from loose masses of rock.
When the river is high, and especially during freshets, it is a passage of great dread to the “raftsmen,” in consequence of the many short turns and projecting points around which the raft is swiftly hurried by the current, which then forces its way through the long defile with the speed of an arrow, being greatly accelerated by the great head of waters accumulated above the entrance, forming quite a lake, and pressing to enter the narrow gorge.
The weathering of the laminated strata before alluded to, with their exposure to the action of the current in different directions, and the cutting of the joints in varying lines are productive of singular and beautiful effects. Architraves, sculptured cornices, moulded capitals, scrolls, and fluted columns are seen on every hand; presenting, altogether, a mixture of the grand, the beautiful, and the fantastic.
The dip of the rocks here is 30 to the SE. The country is rolling, and the sands are covered by a thin soil, supporting a growth of small oaks.
October 15.– Eighteen miles below the dalles, we passed “Winnebago portage,” which leads to fox river of Green Bay, and was for many years the route by which all the goods intended for the Mississippi, passed, in their transportation from Mackinaw. It is now considered the head of steamboat navigation on this river. Occasionally fine sections of sandstone were displayed in the bluffs to-day, rising from thirty to one hundred feet above the water level.
October 16.– At 11 o’clock to day, we reached “Sauk Prairie”, a village containing some fifty or sixty good houses. it is beautifully situated on the north bank of the river, and extends along shore for nearly a mile. The houses are mostly substantial neatly painted frames, though there are several brick buildings, and i noticed one beautiful structure of magnesian limestone. The distance from this place to the mouth of the Wisconsin is about eighty miles.
At this point my geological observations ceased; the object of the reconnoissance having been to trace the rocks from Lake Superior to their junction with the survey of 1839, and make incidental observations on the topography of the country. Having accomplished these objects to the best of my abilities, I hastened toward the rendezvous at Prairie du Chien, where we arrived on the morning of the 19th October.