For My Cousins Columbia County, Wisconsin
Maps and Written History (as of 1878)

From: Illustrated Historical Atlas of Wisconsin
Compiled and published by Synder, Van Vechten & Co., Milwaukee (Wisconsin) 1878

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History of Columbia County
(as written in 1878)
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Match the township map numbers below with their location on the county index map (above)

Arlington (18) -- includes Dixon P.O. and Arlington Station
Caledonia (7) -- includes Alloa P.O., Grass Lake and Dekorra P.O.
Columbus (21)
Courtland (11) -- includes Randolph and Cambria
Dekorra (12) -- includes Hartman, Poynette and Alloa
Fountain Prairie (15) -- includes Fall River P.O.
Hampden (20)
Leeds (19)
Lewiston (2)
Lodi (17)-- includes Okee P.O.
Lowville (13)-- includes Rocky Run and Wissahiconi Lake or Mud Lake
Marcellon (4) -- includes Midland, Bellefontaine and Marcellon
Newport (1)
      City of Kilbourn
Otsego (14) -- includes Rio P.O. & Station, Grass Lake and Doylestown
Pacific (8) -- includes Portgage City
Randolph (6)
Scott (5)
Springvale (10)
West Point (16) -- includes Farrs Corners P.O. and Gilbraltar Bluff
Winnebago (3) -- includes Port Hope P.O., Corning Station, Ft. Winnebago and Portage City
Wyocena (9) -- includes Pardeeville P.O., Swan Lake and G. Mill Station

The following transcription was taken verbatim from the above-referenced 1878 atlas (starting at page 198). I have broken the lengthy paragraphs into shorter paragraphs to make it easier to read, but otherwise have tried to be true to the spelling, text and punctuation of the original document. Although I've done my best to be accurate, there may be transcription errors that I failed to catch.

COLUMBIA COUNTY (as of 1878):

This county, as a whole, is situated high, with low lands along the Fox and Wisconsin rivers. The surface is divided by irregular undulations, interspersed with marshes. It was originally timber land dotted with an occasional oasis of prairie. The soil in the eastern tier and a half, together with the southern tier of townships, is a black loam. This area represents the best farming district in the county, the balance being clay loam, sand beds and marshes, a considerable part of which is adapted to agriculture.

The acreage of crops in 1876 gave 72,031 to wheat (the average from year to year being about eleven bushels per acres); oats, 23,110; corn, 31,600; with smaller quantities of rye, barley and hops. The crop in late years is changing from wheat to corn. Vegetables flourish in this region. Potatoes return an abundant harvest when the bug allows them to mature. The climate is too severe for the peach and pear. The ironclad variety of the apple, on the protected hillside, will withstand the cold for a few years, but eventually it succumbs. The husbandman must be constantly planting if he would continue to gather fruit. The supply will about satisfy the home market. The smaller fruits all grow in abundance. A few persons are engaged in cranberry culture, but it has not as yet proved a success.

All parts of the county are well supplied with water, and the various streams afford complete drainage. The Fox river of Green bay and its affluents drain the northern part; Rock river the eastern part, emptying into the Mississippi at Rock Island, Illinois; the Wisconsin the remainder, pouring its waters into the Mississippi at Prairie du Chien. The current of the streams is usually swift and the bed sandy, affording good water privileges, which are utilized at many points in the driving of flouring mills. The first of these was built by Mr. Drake, at Columbus; Spring creek, in the southwest part, has now six; Duck creek, four; Rowan creek, southwest, two; Rocky run, one; Crawfish, two; Fox run, one. The majority are custom mills, and do only local business.

Very little good timber is found in the county. There are some hard woods on the high lands, as the white, black, and burr oaks, with basswood, tamarack and soft maple on the low lands. These woods are used only for fuel and fencing purposes. There are two small sawmills in the town of Lodi, which are fed from the pine lands above; also one at Kilbourn City.

The exports of the county are wheat, flour, hogs and cattle, which go to market by railway to the cities east. Stock raising, in later years, is becoming quite an industry among the farmers. As the land becomes less adapted for the cereals, pasture lands take their place, and the hill and valley is now seen dotted with herds of cattle and flocks of sheep; of the latter, the finer breeds are being introduced. As an outgrowth of the cattle feeding and grazing, together with the low price of wheat, the dairy business was begun. There are now fourteen cheese factories in the county, distributed at different points, the annual export amounting to about six hundred and twenty thousand pounds.

The geological stratum underlying the region is sandstone, and is quarried for local purposes. Beds of superior brick clay are also found; that at Portage produces a cream-colored brick -- the business being carried on by two firms, William Armstrong, and Meloy & Sandborn; that at other parts produces a red brick. The quality of both is fully equal to the best Milwaukee brick. Sufficient lime for county needs is manufactured from boulders of limestone. There is no formation of the kind in the region.


Four lines of railroad enter the county, and afford easy exit in all directions. These are the Wisconsin Central road, which has Portage City for its southern terminus, and connects with points to the northward; the Portage and Madison road, which is almost an air line between the cities of Portage and Madison; the Chicago and Northwestern, that crosses the county at the southwest corner, and the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul. This line enters the county in two divisions -- the "northern" branch at a point nearly central on the east, which the LaCrosse branch enters at the city of Columbus, in the southeast corner. These two lines unite at Portage City, and depart on the same track; bearing toward the northwest, it passes through Kilbourn City, and leaves the county over a bridge that spans the Wisconsin river at that point. In all there is about one hundred and twenty miles of track in the county.


In this county the Fox and Wisconsin rivers approach within one and a half miles, and are united by a canal, enabling the commerce of the lakes to ascend the Fox river from Green bay, cross the portage, and descend the Wisconsin to the Mississippi. The canal is an extensive improvement, having been recently enlarged and "docked" on both sides. It stands six feet deep in water, and requires but two locks. The ultimate profit of the scheme is yet a little doubtful, as the Wisconsin river is navigable only at high water, due to changing sandbars, which close the route during seasons of low water.


The people of Columbia organized an agricultural society in 1851, which has continued to live, and is now in a very prosperous condition. Between 3,000 and 4,000 dollars are distributed in prizes at the annual fair, which is held at Portage City in grounds prepared for the purpose. There are also two union agricultural societies, which meet annually at their grounds at Lodi and Columbus. These draw their support from Columbia and the counties adjacent. A lively interest is manifested in these union fairs, and contributions are liberal from all the adjoining region.


The educational standard is of commendable excellence. The last census gives one hundred and forty-six school houses in the county, a larger per cent being in good condition. The standard of the teachers is constantly rising, being spurred on by Institutes and the county "Teachers' Association." The larger towns and cities have each its graded school; and the interest in education is of a commendable character.


Various religious sects have a foothold. The first services held were at the fort, by Rev. Mr. Keyes, as chaplain. He supplied their religious wants till in the year 1850, when Rev. W. W. McNair arrived, and, gathering a few of the faithful around him, founded a Presbyterian society. Gradually one after another followed, till now each sect -- the Catholic, Presbyterian, Congregational, Methodist, Lutheran, and Baptist, has a pleasant place of worship.

The county has no debt. Its government has been such as to escape any large obligations to pay; and the energy of its people has been sufficient to quickly wipe out small claims against them. Some of the towns, separately, have an indebtedness. Lodi township owes 32,515 dollars, of which 30,000 dollars is due to the Northwestern railroad, the balance is a school indebtedness; West Point owes 5,000 dollars to the Northwestern railroad; Arlington, 4,000 dollars to Portage and Madison railway; and Newport, 5,500 dollars for school purposes.


Columbia county was created from Portage county by an act of the legislature approved Feb. 2, 1846, embracing substantially the same territory as now, to be organized with full county and judicial powers, from and after May 1, 1846. The election for county officers was to occur the first Tuesday in April of the same year. The location of the county seat was to be determined at the same election by a popular vote requiring a majority of all cast to select. The result was no selection. Columbus received ninety-seven; Portage, forty-nine; Duck Creek, forty-seven; other places, scattering.

Silas Walsworth was elected county judge, but failing to qualify, James T. Lewis was appointed. J. C. Carr was elected clerk of the board of supervisors, which consisted of Solomon Leach, J. Q. Adams, and John Langdon. The records of this and of the following election in September are all lost and the parties are dead; so all recorded knowledge of what was done is wanting. The actions of the officers elected were declared valid by an act of the legislature approved February 11, 1847. The same act the county west was located at Wyocena, on the northeast half of section twenty-one, township twelve, range ten, until the next general election, when the question was again submitted to the people. It was, by the same act, to remain temporarily at Wyocena until decided by a majority of all votes cast. The building now occupied as the poor house was used as the court house.

The first county officers of which there is record were elected this year, resulting in the selection of James T. Lewis, county judge; T. Clark Smith, sheriff; James T. Lewis, district attorney; Henry Merril, clerk of the court; W. B. Dyer, clerk of the board of supervisors; James C. Carr, treasurer; E. Dickason, register of deeds; and A. Topliff, surveyor; Hugh McFarlane going to the assembly.

By an act approved March 6, 1848, the county seat was fixed at the village of Columbus for a term of five years. All courts were to be holden [TRANSCRIPTION NOTE: word as spelled in the atlas] in the school house. The county officers were to keep their offices at the same village as soon as suitable rooms could be secured, without expense to the county. By an act of August 19, 1848, the people of the county were allowed to vote on striking off that part of Columbia county west of the Wisconsin river, and to attach the same to Sauk county. The proposition was defeated by two hundred and forty-six votes to one hundred and three. By an act in March, 1848, townships twelve and thirteen in ranges six, seven, eight, and nine, lying north and east of the Wisconsin river, were annexed to Columbia county.

In 1850, the subject of permanent location of county seat was again brought before the legislature, and act passed authorizing a vote on the first Tuesday in April, 1850, for or against Wyocena village; and, if this failed, then at the November election of the same year, the question should be decided for or against Fort Winnebago (now Portage City). Wyocena was defeated by seven hundred and eighty-five to five hundred and eighty-seven votes. On account of some irregularity in the returns, the matter was going to the courts, when by a special act of the legislature of march 15, 1851, the question for or against Fort Winnebago was submitted and carried by a vote of one thousand and ninety-six against seven hundred and ninety-six, which definitely fixed the seat of government. The county offices were taken to what is now Portage City, and for a period were kept in a wooden building in the first ward, until, in 1856, they were moved into the Vandercook block rented for the purpose.

In the meantime a substantial brick jail was built at a cost of $8,000. But not until 1865 did Columbia erect special buildings for her offices. In this year a very commodious and beautiful building was erected, situated on a commanding plot of ground in the center of the city. It was built of cream-colored brick, with dark facings, eighty feet front, sixty feet deep, and three stories high. The dome is surmounted by a colossal statue of Justice -- in her left hand the balance, and in her right the sword. There is a substantial and ornamental iron fence surrounding the square on three sides, with flagging sidewalk in front, the whole completed at a cost of $27,000.

The county officers for 1877 were J. J. Guppey, county judge; A. H. Russell, sheriff; L. S. Rolliston, county clerk; Henry Neef, treasurer; George Yule, register of deeds; J. H. Rogers, district attorney; S. M. Smith, clerk of circuit court; Kennedy Scott, county superintendent of schools.


More than a century and a half before the revolution, when settlements on the Atlantic coast were yet in their infancy -- in 1634, Jean Nicolet, as agent of the French governor of Canada, made the ascent of the Fox river from Green Bay, cross the Portage, and descended the Wisconsin until he was but two days' journey from the Mississippi. At this point he relinquished his journey, and turned again toward the bay. He was the first white man that set foot on the present territory of Wisconsin, and the first, of course, to press the soil of Columbia.

The next explorer that sought this region was Louis Joliet, accompanied by Father James Marquette and five French voyageurs: the first "sent by the governor of Canada to discover new countries;" the second, "by the Almighty to illumine them with the light of the gospel." They made the portage in June, 1673. The object of the expedition was to discover and explore the "great river," of which vague accounts were given by the natives. Before leaving the kindly waters of the Fox, which had borne them thus far in safety, the Virgin was invoked to protect and guide, as they embarked on the slower waters of the Wisconsin flowing toward the south and bearing them to unknown trial and adventure.

The Wisconsin is described by Marquette as a broad stream with sandy bottom, full of vine-clad islets, and bordered by fertile lands, diversified by wood, prairies and hills, roebuck and buffalo feed upon its banks in herds. He speaks of no aborigines or their inhabitants. On the seventeenth of June, Joliet and his companions reached the "great river," and "France and Christianity stood in the valley of the Mississippi."

Father Louis Hennepin, a Recollet friar, and his party, as a detail from La Salle's expedition to the Illinois, crossed the portage in 1680, on his way from the upper Mississippi to Green bay. Le Sueur and his party made the portage in 1693, on his way to the Sioux, on a trading expedition. As early as 1718, the Fox and Wisconsin rivers became one of the accepted ways of passing from the St. Lawrence to the Mississippi, the boats being hauled across the portage.

In 1766, Jonathan Carver made a voyage to St. Anthony Falls, by way of the portage. During this visit he claimed to have secured the tract of land, since famous as "Carver's tract," which included the whole or portions of the present counties of Pierce, Pepin, Dunn, Clark, Buffalo, Trempealeau, Jackson, Chippewa, Polk, Dallas, Barron, and Marathon, in Wisconsin, together with a large tract in the vicinity of the Falls of St. Anthony, in Minnesota.

In 1793, Laurent Barth and family (French Canadians), stopped at the portage, on their return from a winter spent on the St. Croix, and obtained permission from the Indians to transport goods at the carrying place. He built a cabin, the first settlement in Columbia. Shortly after the elder De Kaury arrived, and engaged in trading. Jean Lecuyer soon followed, who also engaged in the transfer business. In 1803, Mr. Campbell (later, the first Indian agent at Prairie du Chien), bought Barth's right, and soon sold the same to Lecuyer. Augustin Grignon spent two winters here about this time, as did also Jaques Porlier. Laurent Barth died in 1812. Campbell was killed in a duel in 1808; and Lecuyer died in 1810.

The business of the portage changed hands many times, about this date, and subsequent to Lecuyer's death. Francis Roy, his son-in-law, conducted it for many years. Joseph Rolette, of Prairie du Chien, also engaged in the transfer business, employing Pierre Pauqette as agent. About the same time, Laurent Fily opened a store for the sale of Indian goods, and also engaged in the portage traffic. In 1814, Colonel McKay, with a British force of six hundred Indians and whites, came by this route to capture Fort Crawford, at Prairie du Chien. John T. De La Ronde arrived in 1828, and found seven houses outside the fort; three at the east end of the portage; one owned by Pierre Pauquette, as agent for the Fur Company; another by John Kinzle, as sub-agent; and third by Francis Roy, who had a trading post, and had charge of the portage. The other four buildings were at the west end of the portage, and owned by Perish Grignon, Levoin Grignon, and L. B. Lecuyer. There was also at this point a warehouse owned by Daniel Whitney. Robert Irwin, the first member elected to the territorial legislature of Michigan from this side of the lake, was in Columbia in 1818 as Indian agent.

In the year 1827, the Winnebagoes manifested hostilities, by murdering the Gagnier family, at Prairie du Chien; by firing on a keel-boat coming down the Mississippi from Fort Snelling, and by a general hostile attitude throughout the tribe. Efforts were immediately made by the United States Government to arrest these depredations. The perpetrators were demanded, but their surrender was refused. The military, thereupon, were ordered into the Winnebago territory. General Atkinson, from Jefferson barracks, St. Louis, advanced with thirteen hundred men and two six-pounders; General Dodge started from Galena, Illinois, with one hundred and thirty mounted men. Major Whistler left Green Bay with three companies and a body of Indians. These three commands concentrated on the portage.

Major Whistler arrived on the first of September, and received on the third the surrender of two of the perpetrators. General Atkinson landed on the sixth, and on the eighth two others delivered themselves up. The principal captive was a somewhat noted chief -- Red Bird. After the prisoners were secured and the tribe earnestly warned against any repetition of such acts, the troops withdrew. This ended the "Winnebago war." The results of this determined action on the part of the government had a salutary effect upon the Indians. No outbreak ever again occurred from this tribe.

The prisoners were kept in confinement at Prairie du Chien. Red Bird died before his trial. Two were convicted on trial before Judge James Duane Doty, and the other liberated for lack of evidence. As a consequence of this warlike episode, the necessity became imperative for a garrison nearer the central portion of this region, to control the savage and protect the settler. Accordingly, a fort was built on the high ground at the east end of the portage, under the name of Fort Winnebago. Tradition makes it the identical spot where Father Marquette erected the cross a centuary [TRANSCRIPTION NOTE: word as spelled in this atlas] and a half before. Major Twiggs (later, of Mexican fame, and later still, of rebellion infamy), was in command of the expedition sent in 1828 to construct the fort and erect the buildings.

There were three companies of the 1st United States Infantry. Jefferson Davis was on the expedition as lieutenant, and is said to have manifested great skill in cabinet work and ornamentation. The buildings were arranged in the form of a square, no protection being made against cannon. The soldiers cut and hewed the timbers, made the brick, burned the lime, and did the residue of the work. The buildings erected were of a very substantial kind, and the location admirable.

The prospect from these green hills, whose base was washed by the sparkling waters of the Fox, whose summit was crowned by the snowy white fabrics of the fort, was a scene beautiful -- even magnificent. Seldom is there found a more attractive arrangement of nature's resources than is presented from this point; the clear, fish-peopled streams in the foreground; less than a league away, the slow-moving muddy waters of the Wisconsin; the prairies carpeted by an unbroken sward of verdure, varied by flowers of most delicate hue and form; the contour of nature simulating a sea petrified, while its waves rolled in gleeful undulation under a gentle breeze. Such was the condition of Columbia before the tentacles of civilization fastened upon her watercourses or swept from her hillsides the ornateness of nature.

This continued to be an occupied fort for twenty years. The garrison, consisting of two companies, were ordered to Texas in 1845, and the post was never again occupied. It was left in charge of sergeant Van Camp, who died in 1847, and William Wier (who died in the summer of 1877), was made custodian. In 1853, the buildings and lands were sold at auction by an order from Jefferson Davis as secretary of war. The reservation of 4,000 acres was bought by J. B. Martin, of Milwaukee, and others, and is now mostly owned by William H. Wells of Fond du Lac, and F. H. Maston of Buffalo.

As you visit the location in 1877, and walk over the ground, strewn by the debris of fallen buildings, and look upon the graves of a buried generation, visit the well, still intact, and willing as ever to cool the parched tongue, the feeling of sadness takes uninvited possession of your thoughts. Owls, voiceless and ancient, brood over the place. Walls, which were built to repel the red man's darts, now shelter the dumb animal from the fury of the storm. Curiosity attracts you hither, but you turn from the desolution with no desire to visit it again. On the portage side of the river are a few feeble dwellings of early days, some abandoned to the bats, others doing the work of former years.

Satterlee Clark, so long senator from Dodge county, was sutler when the post was first established. He was then but fifteen years of age. Mr. McCabe was there at that time, as Indian agent and postmaster. The mails arrived once in two weeks from Chicago, and occasionally from Green Bay. From the last mentioned place it was brought by Joseph Crelie, a man over one hundred years old, who even then was lively and elastic. He died at the supposed age of a hundred and thirty. In 1834, McCabe left, and Henry Merrill, who had arrived from York state to take charge of the sutler store, became postmaster, and Colonel Cutler, Indian agent. About this time George Bartholomew arrived and began trading and farming. He was a great bee-hunter. The entire region was an apiary.

Major Dickason came to Columbia the same year, and opened a small farm in the vicinity of Columbus. He was the first farmer in the east part of the county. The Indians on his first arrival stole freely from him, but they soon learned to fear and respect his rifle -- the path of the transgressor was always a dangerous and painful one. The very sight of his trusty weapon hanging on the wall, would cause the aborigine to exclaim: "Ough, Major Dick'son, no good" -- and decamp at once.

In the year 1836, Gideon Low opened a farm in Caledonia. The year following, Silas and J. Walsworth, Andrew Dunn, Hugh McFarlane and a man the name of Baker, landed at the portage. In 1840, General Atkinson, with a detachment of troops, came to this region to remove the Winnebagoes to Turkey river, Iowa. He conveyed away about two hundred and seventy-five men, women and children; but some of the chiefs had become so wedded to this region that they were determined to remain here, and were back before the troops who removed them. The two most prominent were Dandy and Yellow Thunder. The latter went to Mineral Point and secured a tract of land, and said he was "going to be a white man." He lived in Columbia until his death.

The first court held in this region was in 1841 by Judge Irwin, in the Franklin house, at the portage, Henry Merrill being clerk of the court. The Franklin house was the first hotel built in the village. It was erected by Gideon Low, and was for many years the headquarters for the country round about. In course of time the United States hotel sprang up, and places of business were established at either end of the portage, both contending sharply for the site of the future city. After repeated battles between capitalists and land-owners, the west end gained the day, and the heart of Portage throbs where it now is.

In 1850, Portage, or Fort Winnebago, as then called, had a population of two hundred. There were three villages then: the little collection of houses under the hill at the fort; the little hamlet down the plank road at the United States hotel; and at the present site of the city. Mails arrived semi-weekly, and were in the charge of G. T. Getty, postmaster. Dr. Prentice lived at the east end, and practiced his profession; also, Dr. C. D. Hattenstein. There were several law offices, with stores of dry goods, groceries, drugs and clothing.

The first school taught at the portage was at the fort, by Eliza Haight, as governess in Major Green's family. She instructed ten or twelve children of the garrison. The first day school held outside of the fort was taught by Delos Brown in the small building, situated where Mrs. Dent's house now stands. At this time (1850) there was but one church building in the place, belonging to the Presbyterians, with Rev. W. W. McNair as pastor. A newspaper was issued weekly, under the name of the Fox and Wisconsin River Times, its proprietors being John, James, Joseph and Arthur Delany. The principal business firms advertised were T. Dean & Company, dry goods; John Strong, clothing and general merchandise; Walter W. Kellogg, justice and attorney at law; W. D. Ingram, attorney at law and land agent; DeWitt & Johnson, counselors at law; C. D. Hattenstein, physician and surgeon. The Northern Republic was started soon after and conducted in the interest of the whig party.

In 1854, Brown & Brith bought out the Delany Brothers and conducted the Times as the Badger State. Julius Converse Chandler established the Independent in 1855, and conducted it for two years, when he disposed of it to R. B. Wentworth. He made it the Record, and issued a paper weekly until 1861. In this year, A. J. Turner bought the Record. The Badger State had changed hands in 1859, and was conducted by S. S. Brannan. These two papers -- the Badger State and Record -- consolidated in 1861, and originated the State Register under the supervision of Brannan & Turner, which is still in existence. The other newspapers in 1877 were the Western Advance of Portage, edited by Dr. E. W. Stebbins; the Portage Democrat, conducted by H. D. and W. E. Barth. In addition to these, there is also a weekly German sheet issued at Portage, under the name of the Columbia County Wecker, edited by G. Selbach. There are two weekly papers published at Columbus -- The Columbus Democrat, under the control of E. D. Barth, and the Columbus Republican, edited by J. R. Decker. There is also a lively weekly paper issued at Lodi -- The Lodi Valley News -- under the charge of Peter Richards; also, one at Randolph, bearing the suggestive name, Lively Times, and issued weekly by F. A. Brown. The Kilbourn City Guard is published weekly at Kilbourn City by Wesley Moran, who is vigorously engaged in advertising the "Dells," and in promulgating republican principles.


This city, the county seat, is situated on the eastern bank of the Wisconsin river, and occupies an area of seven a half square miles. The streets cross each other obliquely, which necessitates many irregularly-buildings, and is a considerable blemish to the city. By an act of the legislature, approved March 10, 1854, the city of Portage was organized, William Sylvester being the first mayor. It is divided into five wards, three of which are supplied with commodious school buildings.

The city is adorned by numerous church spires. The Catholic, Presbyterian and German Lutheran are commanding buildings, while the Methodist, Baptist, and Episcopal societies have less showy buildings, but prosperous organizations. The Masons, Odd Fellows, Temple of Honor, and Mendota societies are well represented, and have rented rooms, pleasantly fitted up, where their meetings are held. There are more brick blocks in Portage than is common in places of the size. The material used in the majority of the buildings of the city is a cream-colored brick, which, when tastily trimmed, makes a very beautiful building. There are several strong firms in business, in the various lines of merchandise, carrying stocks that would do credit to a much larger place. Added to these are all the variety of industries common to a city of 4,500 inhabitants.

The city expects to reap a rich harvest from the Fox and Wisconsin river commerce. The canal uniting these two rivers passes within the corporate limits of the city; so capital will naturally seek this point, and new enterprises will be commenced.

Portage City has a debt of $21,000 of which $15,000 is for railroads, and the balance for school purposes. The city is supplied with three main lines of railway: the Wisconsin Central; the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul, and the Portage and Madison. These three lines afford constant and easy communication with inland points, which the Fox and Wisconsin rivers connect the city intimately with Green bay and the Mississippi. The advantages of the natural situation are great, and Portage may reasonably look forward to a prosperous future.


This was purely a city of the imagination, and was one of the competing points for the state capital. It has usually been located in Iowa county, but incorrectly so. There is an engraved plat of this city in the state historical collection at Madison, made in 1836, and certified by John Mullett, United States deputy surveyor. It shows the streets, public squares, and market places, and describes the locality at sections, eight, nine and seventeen, township ten, range seven east. This makes it on the east bank of the Wisconsin river, in the southwestern part of the town of West Point, Columbia county.


This city is located in the southeast corner of the county, in the center of a rich farming country, and on the La Crosse branch of the Milwaukee & St. Paul railway. The region around is a fine wheat country. Large quantities of that cereal are annually shipped at this point. Crawfish river runs through the place and affords water power for the driving of mills and other machinery. The first cabin that was erected at or near this point was built by Major Dickason, in 1832. Its growth has been gradual and substantial since that time, and is now a city of twenty-five hundred inhabitants, having many substantial business blocks and tasty residences. Its school-houses and churches are commodious buildings, and the interests of each are cherished by the people.


The village is situated on the Wisconsin river at the extreme northwest corner of the county. At this point, the counties of Sauk, Juneau and Adams also corner; so that the citizens of Kilbourn City can in an hour's time be within the limits of four counties. The river at this point is spanned by a bridge, over which the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul railway leaves the county and by which teams from the opposite shore enter the village. The first settler at this place was Alanson Holly, in 1854. He brought with him a printing press and started a newspaper, taking the name of the Mirror. J. B. Vliet and J. Anderson arrived soon after and laid out the place. Its growth was rapid, and soon drew the entire population from Newport, two miles down the river. P. G. Stroud opened a law; Dr. Braman was the first physician.

The "city" has now a population of twelve hundred, and is well supplied with public buildings. The school-house was erected at a cost of $1,200. It is built of cream-colored brick, with dark facings, and is a credit to the place. The churches are mostly built of red brick, thus making a pleasing contrast. In the eastern part of the village, on a rise of ground, is seen the water-cure building. This was erected to accommodate the health seekers that visit the region. Kilbourn City is in the heart of the most romantic scenery in the northwest.


These are situated on the Wisconsin river, extending about six miles up and down from the city. The general appearance is of a sandstone mountain that has been rent in twain and divided in an irregular manner, allowing an inland sea to gain exit through the crevice. The bluffs rise, at places, perpendicularly, seventy-five feet or more, and are fashioned by the action of the water to simulate almost every conceivable object. The points of interest are disposed in a manner to baffle the skill of the most original landscape architect. The walls are cut into caves by the action of the water, and covered with pine and cedar. Canyons and gulches lead off where the visitor can stroll for miles, hemmed in by walls of stone and shaded with pine and birch; here he can walk for miles on carpets of fern and flower and be refreshed by springs that spout from the overhanging rock and seek the river in a clear, silver-thread rivulet.

The most noted places of interest are the "Witch's gulch," "Cold Water canyon," "Romance cliff," "Sunlight cave," "Devil's jug," and "Stand rock," in the "Upper Dells;" and "Echo point," "Sugar bowl," "cave of the Dark Water," and "Reflection arch," in the "Lower Dells." Thousands visited these scenes last season and were carried from dell to dell, from gulch to canyon, and from cave to peak on the beautiful steamer, the Dell Queen. This will doubtless become one of the greatest summer resorts in this country. Every body goes away surprises, delighted and determined to return again.

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