History of Lake Wissota State Park: Grassland and Forests Characterize Park

Photographed May 23, 2015
Lake Wissota State Park
Chippewa Falls, Chippewa County, Wisconsin
44° 58' 51.75" N, 91° 18' 15.32" W (park entrance)
44.97384,-91.312477 (marker location)
Google Map

The marker is on the right;
see below for marker transcription.

The marker and tree are located about two miles inside Lake Wissota State Park, at a vista point en route to the campground sites. The address to the entrance to the park is located at 18127 County Highway O, Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin 54729.

NOTE: An annual pass or fee is required to enter the State Park to access the marker.

A State Park is Formed
Lake Wissota State Park was established in September 1961, through the efforts of State Senator Davis Donnelly of Eau Claire. The park formally opened in 1972. The original 990 acre park has since grown to 1062 acres. One-tenth of the park is devoted to trails and campgrounds. The remaining land is divided equally between forests and grasslands. The combination of forest and prairie grasslands makes this park unique among Wisconsin's State Parks.
Gift of the Glacier
The land of Lake Wissota State Park and the surrounding countryside was formed over 10,000 years ago when the last of the glaciers receded. As the Wisconsin Glacier, which covered this area, melted, it carved out the Chippewa River Valley. Sand and gravel was deposited on top of 600 million year old Cambrian sandstone. Flat plains produced prairie grasses and oak, while more fertile land to the north supported pine, maple and birch. The park today has both forests and prairies because of its position at the junction of these two plant communities.
Land Used by Many
Native people used the river valley for their transportation and livelihood. In the mid-1800s, lands encompassing the park were owned by the Chippewa Lumber and Boom Company. As trees were cleared, the land was converted to agricultural uses. At the time the land was acquired for the development of the state park, a 25 acre American Legion Park existed in the southern area of the park on the shores of the Yellow River.

Lake Wissota is Wisconsin's 13th largest state park located on Wisconsin's 12th largest lake. Over 115,000 visitors enjoy the park each year.

The marker is located inside Lake Wissota State Park.

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