The route to reach Devil’s Lake in La Valle, Wisconsin, can be reached by going through the forest, or climbing the Bluffs. We chose the later because of the tremendous view we anticipated. From the ground the hike did not look too bad.
It was a strenuous hike, but the view was worth it.
It took us over an hour to hike the 1/2 mile up, and 935 ft in elevation.
The entire trip was just under 3 miles as we hiked through the forest on the way back.
On October 8, 1871 there was a great fire. Where was it? (Hint: we are in Wisconsin.)
If you said Chicago, right date wrong place. In 27 hours the Chicago fire consumed 3 1/2 square miles of ground and killed 300 people.
The fire was in Peshtigo, Wisconsin. In only 7 hours the fire consumed 1,000 square miles of land and killed 1,200 people.
The town of Peshtigo lies on both sides of the Peshtigo river which is a tributary of Green Bay, which is an arm of Lake Michigan. In olden times it was a great place to trade goods, and later on part of the lumbering industry.
A little history on why these fires are on the same day. For the entire summer of 1871 there were only 2 rain days, the last one 6 weeks before October 8th. It was an unusually warm and windy season. After the Civil War, the area of Peshtigo was looking to populate and they offered any Civil War veterans 80 acres of land. But they had to clear the land of trees. After felling the trees and using the wood for homes, etc. they would remove the stumps by burning them. This was a common practice of the time. Here, as elsewhere, including Chicago, there was no education on fire safety, and people where very careless, letting fires burn and smolder unattended. Smokey Bear had not yet been born.
Ok, you ask, when was Smokey Bear born? What, do you think I know everything?
Actually I do.
Smokey Bear was born August 9, 1944.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, because of the arid summer and high winds, there were numerous fires, not only here, but all through Michigan, Wisconsin, and Illinois. In fact in Chicago the week before October 8th the fire department, consisting of only 200 men, responded to over 40 alarms.
No one knows how the Chicago fire started, but the O’leary cow makes an excellent story. Here in Peshtigo, the winds picked up the embers of the smoldering fires in the area, sent the sparks to the dry fields and houses, which then consumed the area. There was no fire department.
Three blocks from our campsite was the Peshtigo Fire Museum. In addition to facts about the fire, it had vast exhibits on other items through time, including Uncle Fred’s dentist equipment.
We have now crossed the top of Lake Michigan and are continuing our journey down the west side of the lake, which takes us into the State of Wisconsin.
Looking for campsites off the beaten trial, we found Badger Park in the small town of Peshtigo. This beautiful and tranquil town park includes 60 camping sites. For a small park the campsites are very spacious, easily accommodating our 40 ft. Sphinx and truck. The cost was $12.50 a night with water and electricity. No sewer on campsite, but there is a dump site as you leave. We are staying here 4 nights, so there is no problem on the sewer.
Since we are in Wisconsin, the first thing we did was look for cheese.
Newberry, Michigan to Peshtigo, Wisconsin 202.3 Miles
Ok, enough about light houses, let’s move on to waterfalls.
We are at the top most part of Michigan. Like the rapids of the St. Mary’s River, which were converted into locks to connect Lake Superior with the lower lakes, so are there numerous other rivers with rapids, and therefore water falls.
Tahquamenon Falls is the closest one to where we are staying. It is located in Paradise Michigan which is on the eastern part of the Michigan Peninsula, on Lake Superior.
The brown color of the falls, and of the river, is caused by tannins leached from the Cedar, Spruce and Hemlock trees in the swamps which empty into the river.
We hiked along the river and saw other falls and rapids.
Most parts of the river were only 5 to 6 inches deep. It seems to be a pastime of people wading across the river to put up stone monuments,
as they were up and down the river.
We hiked 3 trails, one by the river and 2 through the forest.
In hiking through the forest up from the river I noticed the trails were blazed blue, so were the cross trails.
Barbara thinks that all 16 trails are blazed blue to let you know that it is a trail. I think this is confusing when reaching a spoon in the road.
There are 4 locks that connect Lake Superior to Lake Huron. Collectively they are called the Soo Locks. The locks are required as there is a 21 foot drop between the lakes. The connecting water way is the St. Mary’s River. The rapids of the river caused by this 21 foot drop prevented goods to be transferred between the lakes by boat.
In 1797, the Northwest Fur Company constructed a navigation lock 38 feet long on the Canadian side of the river for small boats. This lock remained in use until destroyed by the Americans in the War of 1812. No one bothered to rebuild the locks until 1853.
I don’t know why the 4 locks are collectively called Soo. It might be the anglicized word from Sault, which is from the Indian word for rapids.
It was a busy day at the locks, from large freighters
To a small dingy.
We happen to see the Tall Ship Niagara, from Erie, Pennsylvania, go through.
This man is either the Captain, or a deckhand being hung out to dry and disciplined.
The locks are run by the Corps of Engineers, and there is no charge for a ship to pass through the locks.
Sorry, we are experiencing technical difficulties.
The Valley Camp is a cargo ship built in 1917 that has now been converted to a museum.