Wisconsin Waterways

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History of Waterways Wisconsin is home to many large bodies of water. It borders two great lakes: Lake Superior and Lake Michigan. The western border is made up of both the St. Croix River and the Mississippi River. The treasured Wisconsin River runs through the state, and according to Sweeny-Justice (n.d.) the land has 15,074 lakes (only 40% are large enough to name). The upper Wisconsin River was dammed around 20,000 years ago when the western part of the Green Bay Lobe advanced into the Baraboo Hills (which was discussed earlier in reference to Devil’s Lake State Park). This natural dam formed the glacial Lake Wisconsin, which at its largest point was about the size of present-day Great Salt Lake. When the temperatures rose again, the…show more content…
If you look back at the map shown earlier of outwash plains and moraines caused by glaciers, you will see a yellow color in the exact same area where many of Wisconsin’s major river systems are located. To give you a comparison, look at the map on the left to find the river valleys. The outwash plains laid the groundwork down for the eventual river systems to form. As staggering amounts of meltwater rushed off of glaciers, it eroded again through Wisconsin’s sandstone and dolomite bedrock. This process formed rivers like the St. Croix. The other type of river that resulted because of glaciation is the meandering river. Wisconsin has such a flat terrain where the glacier used to lie, that meandering rivers are very common. These rivers are characterized by their curviness, which sometimes curve so much that they form oxbow lakes: a u-shaped body of water (Ice age geology, n.d.). Meandering rivers and oxbow lakes are pictured…show more content…
According to Kleist, early explorers and indigenous people used the various waterways for most of their transportation. As people began to travel further and further, they realized an incredibly crucial area in Wisconsin that divides the southwest draining Lower Wisconsin River, and the headwaters of the northeastern draining Fox River (n.d.). This area, known to the Menominee as Wauona, is where people could portage over from the Fox River to the Wisconsin River, a roughly 1.5 mile hike. The importance of this area lies in what those bodies of water lead to. If someone took the portage, he or she would be able to travel from the Atlantic Ocean, through the Great Lakes, down the Fox River, to the Wisconsin River, meet up with the Mississippi River, and reach the Gulf of Mexico (Portage Canal, n.d.). These rivers are pictured
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