Wisconsin River

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The Wisconsin River is a tributary of the Mississippi River in the U.S. state of Wisconsin. At approximately 430 miles (692 km) long, it is the state's longest river. The river's name, first recorded in 1673 by Jacques Marquette as "Meskousing," is rooted in the Algonquian languages used by the area's American Indian tribes, but its original meaning is obscure. French explorers who followed in the wake of Marquette later modified the name to "Ouisconsin," and so it appears on Guillaume de L'Isle's map (Paris, 1718) This was simplified to "Wisconsin" in the early 19th century before being applied to Wisconsin Territory and finally the state of Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin River originates in the forests of the Lake District of northern Wisconsin, in Lac Vieux Desert near the border of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It flows south across the glacial plain of central Wisconsin, passing Wausau and Stevens Point. In southern Wisconsin it encounters the terminal moraine formed during the last ice age, where it forms the Dells of the Wisconsin River. North of Madison at Portage, the river turns to the west, flowing through Wisconsin's hilly Western Upland and joining the Mississippi approximately 3 miles (4.8 km) south of Prairie du Chien. [1]

History[edit | edit source]

Joliet used the name "Miskonsing" on a map that he drew in 1674, and when the news of their voyage was first published in 1681 the book's author, Melchisedec Thevenot, called it the "Mescousin" River. The name we use today was born when the explorer Rene Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, misread Marquette's initial M, which was written by hand in cursive script, "Ou" in 1674. The first documented exploration of the Wisconsin River by Europeans took place in 1673, when Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet of France canoed from Lake Michigan up the Fox River until reaching the present-day site of Portage in early June. At this location the Wisconsin and Fox rivers are only 2 miles (3.2 km) distant, so the explorers could portage from the Fox to the Wisconsin River. They then continued downstream 200 miles (320 km) to the Wisconsin's mouth, entering the Mississippi on June 17. Other explorers and traders would follow the same route, and for the next 150 years the Wisconsin and Fox rivers, collectively known as the Fox-Wisconsin Waterway, formed a major transportation route between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River. [2]

Records[edit | edit source]

The River goes through the following areas and records may be found there:
Wisconsin Grant County, Wisconsin Genealogy
Lincoln County, Wisconsin Genealogy
Sauk County, Wisconsin Genealogy
Marathon County, Wisconsin Genealogy
Iowa County, Wisconsin Genealogy
Wood County, Wisconsin Genealogy
Columbia County, Wisconsin Genealogy
Portage County, Wisconsin Genealogy
Oneida County, Wisconsin Genealogy
Adams County, Wisconsin Genealogy
Juneau County, Wisconsin Genealogy

Websites[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]