Wisconsin Reports 164 Cases Determined by the Supreme Court of Wisconsin 1916-1917: Rest Lake Dam

Click on the link below to download the Wisconsin State Supreme Court decision regarding the Chippewa & Flambeau Improvement Company v. Railroad Commission of Wisconsin.  Since the 1914 complaint filed by Manitowish Waters residents with the Railroad Commission of Wisconsin due to the wild variations in the water levels in the legal wrangling over dam operation became contentions leading to appeals.  The favorable ruling for the residents of Manitowish Waters was appealed by the company ultimately to the Wisconsin Supreme Court who again ruled against the Chippewa & Flambeau Improvement Company. 

New and revealing details of early life on the chain was included in the 20 page review by the court.  Most interesting was the huge shifts in water level the Chippewa & Flambeau Improvement Company would impose on the residents above the dam.  From 1888-1914 the court reported during the early years the water level ranged from 16 to 0 feet between April and July.   The modern debates over the water levels of the dam seem silly by comparison.  Imagine, in April the water levels would be 7.5 feet above the current high water level and in July the water levels would be 5.5 feet below the low water level.  Even after the log drives ceased in 1904, the dam water level was frequently raised to 12 feet (3.5 feet above current high water levels) and reduced to near 0 or the natural flow.  My great aunt Anne Byram spent most of her summers on Rest Lake throughout her life and told me several times how as a child they could nearly walk to Fox Island during some summers.