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Histories:  Trempealeau Co. Historical Accounts:

"History of Northern Wisconsin, 1881":

Natural Features of Trempealeau County

-As transcribed from page 1033


This is one of the western tier of counties of the State, and is bounded on the north by Eau Claire County, on the east by Jackson County, on the south by La Crosse County and the Mississippi River, and on the west by Buffalo County. The surface of the county is almost equally diversified, being divided into high rolling prairie, level low lands, sharp, rocky bluffs and long ridges and ravines. Generally speaking, the county has excellent water-ways, being watered by Trempealeau River. and Beaver and Elk Creek and their tributaries, on all of which superior mill power is afforded, that has been generally availed of for the erection of both saw and grist mills. Along these streams are narrow valleys of fertile land, smiling among the somber hills, upon which they fatten by the aid of nature's perpetual washings. Upon the summit of these ridges, the land is not so fertile as in the valleys, but becomes so as it approaches the prairie, some of which is of large dimensions, and presents excellent opportunities to the husbandman.

In addition to the streams mentioned, there are numerous springs, creeks and rivulets, which furnish drainage for the country through which they pass, and some of which afford slight water power. The county also contains mineral springs, the medicinal qualities of which have been examined and analyzed by chemical experts, who pronounce them superior.

The soil is generally of a sandy loam interspersed with some swamp land, adapted to the growing of hay, and at certain points a clay loam. In some portions of the county there is an inconvenient destitution of timber, but is being rapidly grown, and will in time promise an abundance of material for building and other purposes. Wheat, corn, clover, etc., find their chosen home in the soil of its hillsides and valleys, and properly alternating, its fertility will doubtless be prolonged indefinitely. In fruits, the county is regarded as peculiarly favored, orchards having been successfully established in all parts, apples, plums, etc., being grown in abundance.

Two railroads cross the county in opposite directions, the Green Bay & Minnesota from west to east, and the Northwestern from north to south in the western part of the county, affording valuable means for the shipment of and the development of the internal wealth of the sections through which they pass.

The apparent geological stratum is Potsdam sandstone. Along the streams it is cut into irregular forms and rises in places into jagged peaks and ridges between. Trempealeau River and other streams have worn for themselves a winding bed, giving to some portions of the county scenery both rugged and romantic. In some portions of the county azoic granite is the characteristic, with the underlying rocks to a depth unknown of fossiliferous sandstone, resulting as already suggested in a sandy loam, very sandy in some places, and in others a clay loam, with here and there granite boulders.

The mounds visible at nearly every point of the compass produce a pleasing effect upon the landscape and where they have been excavated, prehistoric remains were thrown out. In 1860, one of the groups of mounds on Judge Gale's place, near Galesville, was excavated in the center to the surface of the surrounding prairie, when bone dust mixed with earth, and a small quantity of hair were found. At the same time Dr. Young excavated a small hole in one of the group and was rewarded by the discovery of a human skull. The excavation was enlarged, and upon digging deeper a skeleton was found which had evidently been buried in a kneeling position.

These mounds are uniform in size and appearance, being from thirty to forty feet in diameter, three or four feet high, circular in plan and dome-like in elevation. In one of these groups there were four effigies discovered, three of animals and one of the human form. The animals were about sixty feet long, almost exactly alike in size and form, and laid with their heads to the east. That of the human form lay in a recumbent position with arms outspread, and was thirty-two feet in length. Another group a few yards distant contained five figures of the animal above mentioned and a turtle. On the grounds of Galesville University was a figure probably intended to represent a bear thirty-five feet long, and about forty rods north of this another figure resembling a horse seventy feet in length.

The general prevalence in Wisconsin of the existence of these mounds have excited no inconsiderable interest in the minds of scientists since their discovery was first made. Nearly every county has these interesting vestiges of a numerous people long since gone to rest, about whose history there pends a veil-an impenetrable mystery-of whom the later Indian tribes possessed neither knowledge, myth or tradition. Those in Trempealeau County are as numerous as elsewhere, and when opened have been found to contain spear and arrow heads, human bones and sometimes pottery. They are so common it might be said as to excite little interest among those who have resided in the county for any length of time, and are driven over and plowed up as if but a rise in the ground, not all that remains of the history of a past race.

To this country then did emigrants direct their wanderings at a day now almost fifty years gone by, to establish that which protects all and oppresses none-a home; that sanctuary of the human family which contains all of purity, all of government and all of religion in this world-a well ordered, God blessed home.

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