Rice Lake, the Red Cedar River, and The History of Rice Lake
Rice Lake and the Red Cedar River
|The headwaters of the Red Cedar River (which flows into and out of Rice Lake) originate northeast of Birchwood as outflow from Lake Chetac, which then flows through Birch Lake, Balsam Lake, and into Red Cedar Lake. Additional headwaters originate from Hemlock Creek, which flows through Bolger Flowage, through Hemlock Lake, and into Red Cedar Lake. The narrows separating Balsam and Hemlock Lakes from Red Cedar Lake are large enough that all three lakes have nearly the same water surface elevation. The Red Cedar River then flows from Red Cedar Lake and joins with the Brill River drainage prior to entering Rice Lake.|
The Red Cedar River meanders shallow and wide, with a brisk current and lots of islands, continuing on and joining into the Chippewa River below Menomonie.
|Rice Lake has "The best drinking water in Wisconsin," and ranks in the top five in the world for "Best Municipal Drinking Water".|
Blue Hills Area History
|The Blue Hills east of Rice Lake were once a mountain range some 20,000 feet high, even higher than the Rocky Mountains. Successive glacial ice flows rounded the peaks, with the last glacier stopping at the foot of these hills.|
The Rice Lake area was first inhabited by Dakota Sioux and Chippewa Indians. Area waterways and forests provided wild rice, game and fishing, but also a means of transportation. Old Indian trading routes entered the northwestern part of Rice Lake and continued down what is now North Main Street, where pipestone, furs, and wild rice were traded. A historical marker located near the hospital on Lakeshore Drive overlooks the area of the lake where wild rice beds were located. Just north of the marker, in the FFA Park, pits in the FFA Park north of the hospital were likely used to store wild rice.
Radisson des Grosseillier, a French explorer is said to have visited the area in 1654, and the British sponsored Jonathan Carver to explore the region again in 1766. During the late 1700's and early 1800's the abundant wild game in the area attracted many fur traders. Then in the early to mid-1800's the logging industry took hold and began harvesting the vast forests of old-growth timber.
In the late 1800's and early 1900's the Red Cedar River was the major corridor to float old-growth timber logs from it's headwaters in Washburn, Sawyer and Rusk Counties down to lumber mills, some as far away as Menomonie.
Life evolved around the sawmills, and many of the area towns and villages owe their existence and their names to the logging era. As the old-growth wood supply was depleted, residents cleared the land and turned to farming the rolling fields of fertile soil. Wisconsin is now one of the nations leading agricultural producers.
The beautiful rolling hills, many lakes, streams, and hardwood forests make a wonderfully pleasant Sunday driving tour. Take a drive around and see why we love it here.
We hope you'll enjoy your visit with us at Currier's Lakeview Lodge and come back again real soon. You'll love the incredible mix of beauty, recreation, relaxation, and just plain fun that keeps our visitors coming back again and again, year after year.
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