MAY 29, 2012

Stewards learn history of Louis' Bluff


By Hayden Marx, Dells Events

What's in a name? For Louis' Bluff - also known as Fox Mound, Hay-Wa-Kha-Chunk, McEwen Bluff and Lewie Bluff among others - each tells a bit of its story.

Members Stewards of the Dells of the Wisconsin River and Dells Country Historical Society heard some of these stories from Mariana and Frank Weinhold, owners of Louis' Bluff, at the Kilbourn Public Library on May 23.

Frank said the history of the bluff can be looked at using different scales depending on if one is looking from a geological perspective, a perspective of the Indians or a perspective of European settlement.

For his presentation, Frank said he would concentrate mainly on the history of the bluff during the time of European settlement at the bluff: which he said really begins in 1847. He said during that time the name given to the bluff changed, sometimes with changing ownership, but Fox Mound, the name given the bluff by the Indians, stayed attached.

Frank said he found Fox Mound mentioned as an alternate name for the bluff in letter with a diagram of farm and the bluff.

Although, he said, some were less receptive to the Indian history of the bluff and told the story of a visitor to the area, who after taking a guided tour of the river complained that the Indian history of the area was baseless.

Chief Albert Yellow Thunder, a river guide and primary source for many historians about Ho-Chunk oral history, disputed the claim in a letter printed in Kilbourn Weekly Events on Dec. 17, 1925.

Frank said evidence of the Indian history remains around the bluff in arrow points among other items. He said the points were crafted using different styles and different materials, and by examining the aspects it is possible to learn about the bluff’s history.

Protecting the bluff is important for history, natural beauty and its status as a sacred place to the Indians, Frank said.

Mariana said one of the Indian visitors to the bluff tried to impress on them once what the bluff means to him. She said the visitor said Louis' Bluff is a healing place and not only for the rare herbs, but the spirit of the bluff.

"I have felt that there," Mariana said. "I'm just so fortunate to have experienced it."

Frank said a restaurant was almost built on the bluff before plans had to be scrapped when the Great Depression began. He said a conservation easement was placed on the bluff to protect it from any future development. He said it was made possible through the National Heritage Land Trust and Gathering Waters as well as the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources because of the farm.

We are happy to bring people up, but stressed the land is not public access, Frank said.

More information about the bluff can be found at louisbluff.com

The Stewards and Historical Society plan to visit the Bluff on Saturday. More information about the trip is available on the Stewards website: Dellsstewards.org.

Before the presentation Debbie Kinder, president of the Stewards of the Dells of the Wisconsin River, updated those assembled about:

-The status of the letter to the American Transmission Company, ATC, which states the Stewards' position that the company should not use the river route for the power line. She said it has been given to ATC.

-Project Clean which some audience members said they noticed fewer people participated than in past.

-The June 13 picnic at Newport Park. June 20 was set as a rain date.

-Riverfest, which Kinder said is coming up quickly and is two weeks from Saturday on June 9. Kayak raffle tickets are being sold for $2 each or 3 for $5.