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Wisconsin River

Wisconsin River




Location: Wisconsin    Map

Length: 430 miles (692 km)




Description of Wisconsin River

Wisconsin River is the longest river in the state of Wisconsin in the United States. Its total length is measured at 430 miles (692 km). Pristine majestic shores of Wisconsin River invite thousands of people for fishing, kayaking, rafting and other activities.




The name of the river was mentioned for the first time in 1673 by the French explorer Jacques Marquette as "Meskousing" It is based on the Algonquian languages ​​used in the region by Indian tribes, but its original meaning is not known. The French explorers who later followed the path of Marquette changed the name to "Ouisconsin". The name was simplified at the beginning of the 19th century as "Wisconsin", before being applied to the Territory of Wisconsin and, finally, to the same state of Wisconsin.

The first documentary news of the exploration of the Wisconsin River by Europeans dates from 1673, when the French Jacques Marquette (1637-1675) and Louis Jolliet (born in Canada, 1645-1700), traveling by canoe from Lake Michigan upstream to The Fox River, arrived at the present site of Portage at the beginning of June. In this place the Wisconsin and Fox rivers are only about 3.2 km away, so the explorers could make the portage of the Fox River to the Wisconsin River. Then they followed the 320 km to the mouth of the Wisconsin and reached the Mississippi River on June 17. Other explorers and traders followed the same path and for the next 150 years, the Wisconsin and Fox Rivers, collectively known as the Fox-Wisconsin Waterway, formed an important transportation route between the Great Lakes and the river Mississippi.

The industry began to form in Wisconsin at the beginning of the 19th century, when loggers began to use the log ponds downstream from the northern forests to the sawmills of the new cities such as Wausau. In the 1880s, logging companies dammed the river to ensure it had enough capacity for the logs to float downstream. Later, at the beginning of the 20th century, more dams were built to provide for the control of floods and hydroelectric power. The dams also boosted tourism, creating dams such as Lake Wisconsin, popular areas for recreational navigation and fishing. Today, the Wisconsin River is impounded in 26 places.

Despite this, about 150 km of the stretch between the mouth and the hydroelectric dam in Prairie du Sac are free of any dam or barrier and the waters flow with relative fluidity. In the late 1980s, this part of the river was designated as a "state waterway", and development along the river has been limited to preserve its landscape integrity. The Lower Wisconin Riverway Project is a state-funded project designed to protect that stretch. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources manages more than 75,000 acres of protected land, including the river itself, islands, and some nearby land.

This long stretch of free river provides important natural habitats for a wide variety of wildlife, including white-tailed deer, otter, beaver, turtle, sand cranes, eagles, hawks, and a wide variety of fish species.


The Lower Wisconsin River State Riverway is a state-funded project designed to protect the southern portion of the Wisconsin River. It extends 93 miles (150 km) from Sauk City to the point where the Wisconsin River empties into the Mississippi, about 3 miles (4.8 km) south of the city of Prairie du Chien. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources manages protected lands of over 75,000 acres (300 km2), including the river itself, islands, and some lands adjacent to the river.

Recreational opportunities on the lower Wisconsin River range from fishing and canoeing to tubing and camping. Canoe camping is particularly popular because of the abundance of suitable sandbars along the riverway and because no permits are required. On summer weekends, naturists can be found on Mazo Beach which is north of the village of Mazomanie. According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, two thirds of river users can be found on the stretch between Prairie du Sac and Spring Green.





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