Our County Parks

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Today’s County Park is not in Rock County (gasp!) but it relates to Lake Koshkonong, and it fits the overall story I am working on. A short distance into Jefferson County is Lake Koshkonong Effigy Mounds Park. It can be a little complicated to get to, but it’s worth the trip.

The parking area accommodates only two or three cars, but in all the times I have been there, I have rarely found anyone else visiting that didn’t walk from a nearby home. There are no amenities like wash rooms, picnic tables, or playground equipment but there are very nice benches scattered along the trail through the park.

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This map is from the brochure provided by the Hoard Historical Museum.
407 Merchant Ave. Fort Atkinson, WI. 53538

This park covers approximately five acres and contains 11 effigy mounds built by Native Americans that predate the Ho-Chunk Nation. There were 72 mounds within an area of about a mile, but with the coming of Europeans and farming, a vast majority were eliminated — making these remaining mounds very precious.

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Nobody really knows why the mounds were constructed in animal shapes, which can only be identified from the air, but it’s widely believed that the purpose was ceremonial. There is the remnant of a trail through the park that is thought to be one the Native Americans traveled during their seasonal migration through the area. These mounds are considered sacred by the Ho-Chunk People, so please be respectful and do not walk on them.

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I found a little bit of conflicting information between the plaque at the entrance of the park, and a brochure I picked up at the beginning of the trail. The plaque indicates that the mounds were thought to have been built between the years of 650-1200 AD. The brochure says that this happened between 300-1642 AD. I thought that the 1642 date seemed late; by this time white men were beginning to come into this area, and I thought the mound builders were a much older culture. After contacting the Hoard Historical Museum, the creator of the brochure, the earlier 650 to 1200 time frame is more correct.

Walking the trail through the park feels wonderful. I love spending time there because the energy of it is so peaceful. As you walk around the various mounds its hard not to imagine what the people who lived in the area, and built these amazing mounds, must have been like. I find it is a great place to meditate. I would recommend taking some time and visiting this park. Also, bring some kind of bug defense, as the park backs up to a thick patch of trees, and is heavily wooded itself.

For more information about this Jefferson County Park you can contact follow this link.

Have a great day!

Our County Parks

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There isn’t really a great deal to be said about next stop on my mission to visit each of Rock Counties Parks. I have been to this one several times. This weeks park, Indianford County Park, can be found just east of Fulton and South of Edgerton. Indianford is a small unincorporated community that straddles the Rock River. The park is also small, just a bit over 2 acres, and is split between the east and west banks of the Rock River.

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Each side of the river has some amenities like picnic tables, porta-potties and trash bins. The west side park also has a water pump and I believe I saw a grill. Parking is limited on each side of the river. Parking on the east bank is shared with businesses. There are three restaurant/bars, that when open create competition for parking space.

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Although small, the parks are fairly well-kept. The east bank is higher, it’s bank is steep with many large rocks along the edge that are overgrown with weeds. This makes access to the water a little complicated. Years ago I would bring my young son to this park because he enjoyed climbing on the rocks and playing in the shallow water on this side of the river. The east side also gets more sun as there are fewer trees. The west bank park is nicely shaded and has a low access to the water making canoe and kayak entry to the water possible.

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The highlight of this park is the river and it’s dam. The first dam was built of wood in 1846. This turned what was a shallow stream with a gravel base and large rocks into a river and raised the water level in the lake upstream by three to four feet.

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Someone caught a bike!

When I was there several people were fishing from the banks on both sides of the river. You can catch Walleye, Muskellunge, Large and Small Mouth Bass as well as Northern Pike. The east side park has a sign posted listing size and catch limit regulations. Alcohol is not allowed in the park and dogs are allowed only in posted areas. The park is open from 5am to 10pm.

Have a great day!

Our County Parks

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Royce Dallman Park is the next on the list of County Parks that I visited. You can find this park at Charley Bluff, off Cnty. N straight out Charley Bluff Road. While it is not the smallest of Rock County Parks, at just 2.3 acres, it is more a launching site for small boats onto Lake Koshkonong than it is a park. It does have some nice amenities. There is a picnic pavilion with a couple of tables, rest rooms with pit toilets, a water pump, one grill that is quite a ways past the rest rooms a water pump and there are trash bins. When I was visiting the park the rest rooms were fairly clean but had no toilet tissue, so it might be a good idea to bring some along, just to be on the safe side.

This park is named for Royce Dallman who lived and worked in the county as a DNR Game Warden from 1940 to 1964.

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The park is a long loop with one road into the park and the opposite side of the loop heading out. There is ample parking for vehicles hauling boat trailers but no real designated area for cars. Your best bet is to park up by the wash rooms or off to the side of the lot on the exit portion of the loop. The restrooms are at the end of the parking lot. You can almost see them.

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The boat launch has a little bit of a curve to it but the boaters seemed to not have an issue with it. There is a boat launch fee and envelopes provided to pay with a secure drop point for the envelope. Fishing is allowed on the lake with Muskellunge, Walleye, Sauger, Large and Small Mouth Bass in the lake. A sign is posted with size and catch limits.

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There is a map of the lake near the boat launch that shows the locations of the most shallow areas of the lake and something that I though was pretty impressive. There is a life preserver station that gives people the opportunity to borrow life preservers for children that do not have one. Then, when you are done boating you simply return it to the bin.

What the park lacks in playground equipment and space for games it more than makes up for and shines in the area of water sports. The lake is a natural shallow reservoir approximately half way between Fort Atkinson and Indian Ford. It’s average depth ranges from six to seven feet. There was a time when it was the second largest inland lake in the state but has dropped to the eighth largest. That still makes it a good size lake at about 10500 acres! There is so much more that I could tell you about this jewel in our county, but I don’t want to give away too much information about the lake, as I am planning a future blog about it, so I will stop here with two views of the beautiful Lake Koshkonong!

 

Our County Parks

Walt Lindemann
Sportsman’s Park

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Continuing my goal of visiting and blogging about all of Rock County’s parks. We come to Walt Lindemann Sportsman’s Park. I’ve been aware of this park all my life, driven past it too many times to count but never checked it out. Well, a couple of days ago instead of driving by, My son and I went in and I must say I was pleasantly surprised.

This park area was created in 1967 and prior to 1979 was known as Sportsman’s Park. In February of 1980 the name was changed, adding Walt Lindemann. Mr. Lindemann served as county clerk from 1941 to 1972 and was concerned about the counties parks and recreational facilities.

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Sportsman’s Park is located on Hwy 51 in Janesville across from the County Health Department, south of Hwy. 14. It’s not a real large park, just nine acres, but it is quite a nice place. The parking lot is long, extending well into the park and is surrounded with a lovely rock border. There was a party being held in the pavilion when we were there and plenty of parking spaces were still available.

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The park amenities include a covered pavilion which can be rented for parties. There are a few grills and quite a number of picnic tables, some are handicap accessible. There is a drinking fountain, restrooms and trash bins at both ends of the parking area. The park also has a very nice playground area that is handicap accessible as well as some open areas for games. The park is nicely shaded by many large trees making it a nice place to sit on one of the wood benches and enjoy mature.

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There is also a pay telephone in the park! You don’t see them much anymore. Dogs are allowed in the park but must be on a 6 ft. leash and are only to be in the extreme eastern part of the grass at the edge of the park.

There are a couple of interesting things we discovered while visiting. Adjacent to the park are a deer enclosure and an old cemetery! The deer enclosure is a nice size and has from our count seven doe and three buck whitetail deer. The deer are owned by Scott, Jim and Nancy Schoonover which are Mystic Whitetails and are kept safe by two layers of fencing. In order to keep the deer safe it is requested that dogs not be in this area. The grass was quite tall and all we could see at first was heads sticking out. The enclosure has a couple of shelters allowing the deer to get in out of bad weather.

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It appears that at one point in time there was a pheasant brood and pen in the park. The pen is open for the deer now.

At the back of the park, tucked behind some trees is a fenced in area. I did a bit of research and discovered that back in the 1881, Rock County opened an asylum. In time it was apparent that there was not enough space and 350 acres was purchased and a larger facility was built that encompassed the insane asylum, county poor farm and county hospital. This cemetery must be what was a part of that complex. (future Rock County blog post topic!) You can’t see many marker stones and it was difficult to see if they were gone or replaced with flat markers. The area appears to be well maintained and I am glad of that.

Walt Lindemann Sportsman’s Park is a wonderful little gem tucked in the north west part of Janesville. Well worth a drive to enjoy. Like all county parks there is no fee to enter and is open from dawn to dusk. To rent the pavilion or seek more information about the park call the Rock County Parks Department at 608-757-5450. Have a great day!

Storrs Lake Wildlife Area

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This is technically not a county park but this is one of my favorite places in Rock County. I spend a good deal of time out there and this is my blog 🙂 so this post is going in that category! You will find Storrs Lake just east of Milton, immediately north of the Milton House Museum on Storrs lake Road (This heads out of town toward what is now an industrial area). If you follow that road out you will come to a left turn; Keep going and you’ll find the parking lot and trail head!  Once you get past the new Hwy 26 bridge it’s a pretty little drive into the parking area.

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Storrs Lake has a bit of history to it. During the Blackhawk War/Massacre, Brigadier General Henry Atkinson spent a night by the lake while in pursuit of Blackhawk and the small group of warriors, women and children that he had with him. They needed water and the lake was the only source to be had so unfortunately many of his men became ill from drinking the water. What a shame.

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This lake gets it’s name from one of the first settlers to the area that would later become Milton, Wisconsin. Nathan C. Storrs and his wife came to the area in the mid 1830’s and took out a claim across two sections of the county and Storrs Lake was a part of that claim. When Joseph Goodrich came to the area in 1838, he purchased this claim from him.

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Ice Age Trail map courtesy of Portage County Website.

The Storrs Lake wildlife area is a part of the Ice Age Trail that winds its way through the state. The area covers 753 acres total. Of this, much is wetlands and also includes parts of Bowers Lake and another small body of water called Round Lake. The state DNR is working to manage the area in order to protect the wetland, grassland, and forested areas and preserve the habitats for the wildlife.

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This is not a developed area. There are no amenities available like bathrooms, drinking water, grills or even trash containers. So if you visit take your garbage with you! (I always take a bag with me and pick up trash as I go)  There is, though, a single picnic table 🙂 There is also a small public boat launch down a hill from the parking area with a little dock. Quite a few people fish Storrs Lake. I’m told that there are pan fish, large mouth Bass, and Northern Pike. The parking area has very few spaces available but the limited amount is generally not an issue. The spaces are wider and longer than normal to accommodate boat trailers.

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From the parking area there are two trails that go into the woods. Once in, they split off and you have choices as to where you want to go. One trail starts off paved but after a bit turns to a dirt trail like the rest. If you follow it all the way out you come to the spring, or rather what was the spring. It’s grassland now, but when I was young it was open water and you could watch the water bubble up from underground. If you are not familiar with the trails, it’s a good idea keep how you got to where you are in mind because, to the best of my knowledge, there are no maps of the trails that exist; except in the minds of people that are familiar with the area. That makes it a real adventure for rookies to the area! 🙂

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It’s not uncommon to see a variety of different wildlife while hiking. I saw the most interesting bird today. It was small and dark with orange strips on the wings and down its body and tail. It was just beautiful. I have also seen yellow, blue and green finches while on adventures at Storrs Lake, they are pretty cool.

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 One thing to keep in mind when hiking is that during the game seasons like Deer, Turkey and various waterfowl, there are hunters in the woods. I’ve been out and narrowly missed being hit by a stray shot. It’s always a good idea to know where the hunters are and make sure they know where you are. Better yet, just not be there when the danger of being shot is high.

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This s one of my favorite places. Many of the pictures I use for both my blogs are taken there. It is so peaceful, and the energy is wonderful. If you’ve never been to the Storrs Lake Wildlife Area, I recommend you go. I am sure you’ll love it!

For more information about the area check the DNR website here.

 

 

Milton’s Story

Joseph Goodrich

Hello everyone, it’s been a while since I’ve posted a chapter from Milton’s Story and I wanted to say I am sorry about that. I discovered that finding information was more difficult than I had anticipated. Getting research help from the Historical Society was disappointing. So much so that I gave up trying. The Janesville Library and the County Historical Society have been helpful. For that I am thankful.

The favorite saying from the Historical society was “Have you checked the Bicentennial book?” Well yes, but I am a professional and I don’t want to regurgitate already known information nor do I want to put myself into a situation where I can be accused of plagiarism. This has been a fun and interesting project for me. I hope it has also been for those that have been reading Milton’s Story. I don’t want to give up on it yet so be patient as I figure out how I am going to proceed. One option is to skip over Milton and begin another community entirely. I haven’t yet decided whether that is an option I will take.

I will continue working to keep the County Park posts and other things of interest coming for you as I figure this setback out.

Sharon

Our County Parks

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Magnolia Bluff

Of all the County Parks I have been to so far Magnolia Bluff is my favorite. This 120 acre park is in the western part of the county south of Evansville, ½ mile south of HWY 59. Turn onto Croak road and the entrance to the park is on your left a short way down the road.

The park has three parking areas, a large lot at the foot of the bluff and tow smaller lots at the top. One for people bringing horse trailers and another for people going out to the park area. There are restrooms, picnic tables, grills and water provided at both the upper and lower bluff areas as well as dumpsters for your trash. Like all the County Parks this one is open from dawn to dusk. Because of the steep areas and rock outcroppings it is important to use extreme caution near the bluff edges and to not wander off the trails.

Portions of this park are designated State natural Area. The bluff is sandstone over dolomite and has a variety of Oak and Hickory trees as well as some Birch and Elm. There are several area where work has been done to restore and protect the plant species natural to this area. These areas are signed and it is requested that park visitors not walk in or through these areas.

Magnolia Bluff is the second highest point in Rock County. From it’s western end you get a gorgeous view of rolling hills and fields well into Green County. This is certainly a great spot for sunset pictures! I’ve never been to the Eastern overlook but the view must be equally beautiful.

There are two types of trails around and across the Bluff. One is for hiking and cross country skiing only and another for hiking and horseback riding. They are quite extensive and are a lovely, peaceful experience.