Seal of Dane County County of Dane
County Executive's Office

Falk unveils Yahara Waterways Water Trail Guide

June 07, 2007
Joanne Haas, Office of the County Executive (608) 267-8823 or cell (608) 669-5606
County Executive

Three years in the making with lots of note-taking, the Yahara Waterways Water Trail Guide was unveiled today by Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk who called the book of “blueways” full of sure-fire paddling adventures into the little-known local past when legal swimmers had to be covered from neck to knee, the daily mail came by boat and lake ice was big with breweries. Here in Dane County, we have highways, e-ways, airways, railways and walkways. Now, thanks to the hard work of so many who love our waters and the stories they hold, we have our book of blueways – also known as paddling trails,” Falk said during a morning news conference at Olin Park on the shore of Lake Monona. The 44-page color book serves two purposes – as an easy-to-understand recreational guide for paddle sport enthusiasts and as an educational tool detailing the history, culture and environmental diversity of the county’s waters for schools, youth groups and other water fans. The area covered in the guide is south from Cherokee Marsh, including the Yahara River, and all the lakes to Kegonsa. “This user-friendly gorgeous guide, loaded with maps and stories about Dane County’s lakes and rivers, arrives just in time for summer vacation ideas for families, and to kick off Take a Stake in the Lakes Week which starts on Saturday,” Falk said. “Put this book on your summer must-read list. Even if you don’t paddle, I guarantee you’ll find this a fun, lively and interesting book that will cause a few ‘wow’ moments.” Some of Falk’s ‘wow’ moments included learning: -- B.B. Clarke Beach opened in 1901 as the first public beach in Madison, following a Common Council decision in 1879 to reverse an earlier ruling that public bathing was immoral. Swimmers, however, had to be covered from neck to knee. -- Olin Park was the site of a famous water cure resort that President McKinley, William Jennings Bryan and General W.T. Sherman all used. -- Fox Bluff was the site of the major village of the Ho Chunk. Chief White Crow signed a treaty in 1832 ceding the Madison area to the U.S. government. -- Law Park was known as Angleworm Station, where a huge ice harvest business operated from 1875 until 1905 or so, serving the Milwaukee and Chicago brewing and packing industries. Wisconsin’s ice was considered superior because of its superb hardness and thickness. Prohibition helped kill the business. -- A long pier stretched from Edwards Park into Lake Wabesa in the early 1900s. A 35-passenger excursion boat bought people from around the lake to dances at the park or to a nearby train stop. The water trail book is the result of a collaboration of government, non-profit organizations and businesses working under the guidance of the Dane County Environmental Council. The book is based on Taychopera: A Canoe Guide to Dane County’s 4 Lakes -- developed in 1984 by Dane County Environmental Council with text written by Jane Licht. Robin R. Schmidt, chair of the Dane County Environmental Council, said the project is a great example of the dedication and teamwork of many volunteers who shared their passion for Dane County’s water resources. “Through their efforts, many people in Dane County will have a better appreciation of the cultural and environmental resources that surround us,” she said. “I hope this will be the first of many such guides for Dane County waters, and am proud to be part of the Environmental Council working with Executive Falk’s support and vision.” County Supervisor David Worzala, also an environmental council member, praised the work of the volunteers. “They did a fantastic job. And I especially want to credit Mindy Habecker of the Dane County UW-Extension staff for her work as project coordinator.” Falk also announced the water trail guidebook project team is one of four winners of the Dane County Waters Champion Awards, to be presented tonight at a ceremony at the Madison Club. The awards are presented annually by the Dane County Lakes and Watershed Commission as part of Take a Stake in the Lakes Week running from June 9 - 17 (formerly known as Yahara Lakes Week.) Falk also used the news conference as her third Dane in a Day outreach series, dedicated to highlighting the recreational opportunities that abound in Dane County for all to enjoy for little or no cost. The Yahara Waterways Trail guide is available online at Or, it also may be purchased at local park sites and paddling and outdoor sport shops for $5. The book also may be purchased at the Dane County Executive Office, Room 421, City County Building at the University of Wisconsin Extension offices at 1 Fen Oak Court site. To learn more about the schedule for Take a Stake in the Lakes week, see local newspapers or check the Web site: ------------------------------------------------- Partners in the Yahara Waterways Water Trail Project: Capitol Water Trails Dane County Environmental Council Dane County Lakes and Watershed Commission Dane County UW-Extension Friends of Lake Kegonsa Society Mad City Paddlers Madison Audubon Society River Alliance of Wisconsin Rock River Coalition Rutabaga UW-Extension UW-Extension Environmental Resources Center Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources END
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