Histories: Trempealeau Co. Historical Accounts:
"History of Trempealeau County Wisconsin, 1917":
Chapter 23: More Historical Papers
Trempealeau Mountain Park.
-As transcribed from pages 883 - 884
Trempealeau Mountain, the thrilling history of which has been told in earlier chapters, is soon to be a state park. John A. Latsch of Winona, whise benefactions have given to the people of Minnesota a vast reserve lying north of Winona along the Mississippi, proposes to make the gift to the state in order that the residents of Trempealeau County may enjoy the pleasures to be found in romping at play over this unique mountain and the land at its base. These are people who live in the county where his father, the late John Latsch, lived and was engaged in farming for many years. Latsch Valley, in Trempealeau County, has carried Mr. Latsch's name through the years. The donors will make the mountain a memorial to his father, as he has his rich gifts to the city of Winona. The deed that Mr. Latsch will make will be to the Wisconsin Historical Society through the conservation body.
Four years ago residents of Trempealeau County interested themselves in the proposition of preserving this rare mountain. They found barriers, however, in the effort to purchase the property from the individual owners. Finally, after Judge H. A. Anderson, Whitehall; Attorney F. C. Richmond and Attorney E. E. Hensel, both of Arcadia; and Dr. E. D. Pierce, Trempealeau, had decided that the project was too great and the difficulties too serious to make immediate action possible, the proposition was abandoned for a while. Dr. Pierce, however, was determined that the plans should be carried out. His interest in the matter brought the attention of Mr. Latsch to the mountain and the surrounding territory, and in June, 1916, the project began to take definite shape. Now Mr. Latsch owns practically all of the land on the mountain, in all about 130 acres. He also recently purchased the Brady farm across the bay and opposite the mountain. This is to be a portion of the park. In this farm tract are over 200 acres.
Because the mountain is an island and its treasures not easily accessible to the "commercial pirates," much of its original growth and peculiarities have been retained. Probably nowhere on the upper Mississippi is there a more unusual bluff, not only because of its scenic prominence but because of its unusual contour and the rare plants that grow upon it.
There are over 30 varieties of wood on Trempealeau Mountain, among them the Chinkopin, southern locust that blossoms and has pods like bean-pods. There are thousands of kinds of wild flowers. Among the shrubs there is the famous gensing and it was a place where Indians came for years to secure "medicine." The rare wild huckleberry grows there. Apart from the other bluffs surrounded by water, the mountain has preserved its original flora. It cannot be pastured. That explains why the ladyslipper, the painted cup, the quaint showy orchid, the hepaticas, the anemone, the trillium, the blue and yellow violets, and the jack-in-the-pulpit all can be found there.
On the mountain there have been built many of the famous mounds, some of them still unexplored. In recent years wonderful discoveries have been made. These mounds, it is proposed, will be restored and its timber and flora kept intact for the future generations.
The residents of Trempealeau County have expressed to Mr. Latsch a feeling of gratitude for his eagerness to assist in preserving so great a treasure. He has won their everlasting thanks for presenting the mountain. Important and extensive improvements will be made to the mountain and the park by the State Society.
The settlers looked upon Trempealeau Mountain in the earliest day as a historic landmark - a guiding hand in the wilderness - and that feeling has been handed down so that the people today of this vicinity have a friendly interest in the old mountain and regard it as their historic home ground. People have heard its traditions told - its singular place in history - beheld its beautiful part of the Mississippi River scenery and in the evolution of things no wonder that they have come to have a sentiment in favor of its preservation in a wild state so that it may be handed down to future generations adorned in all the glory of its old-time attire.
Many citizens of Trempealeau and vicinity have in the past expressed a desire to have the mountain preserved as a State park. The Trempealeau County and State Historical Societies have been interested in it, but it remained for John A. Latsch, of Winona, to offer a solution for the problem for acquiring title and turning it over to the State. It is desired to preserve the mountain in its natural grandeur, keeping its flora intact and re-establishing its despoiled mound, erecting suitable markers and making cozy by-ways through its woodlands to that the botanist, the geologist, the bird student and whoever else may enjoy the call of the wild, may come and drink their fill of outdoor glory.
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