May 7th, KMGS Field Trip
Saturday of Mother’s day weekend we arranged and hosted a Kettle Moraine Geological Society (KMGS) Field Trip! The weather was terrific! It started a bit breezy and cool, but by the time we got to our second location the sun was out and it was a beautiful day! We met at “The Ranch Bar and Restaurant” at (9:00am, and carpooled from there. We went to the “New” DNR Visitors and Education Center and spend about two and half hours going through the “Explorium”. So worth-while; especially for kids and anyone interested in how the Lake Michigan and Green bay Lobes of the glaciers formed and scoured the region and created the landscape we know as Wisconsin!
Then we drove a couple miles to the Ledge County Park. The group enjoyed the Geological display of the Niagara Escarpment and it was nice as it does not require much walking as some have a bit more of a challenge with “hiking”, this allowed a full view of the escarpment without the stress and difficulty with long distances. The Parking area to the Ledge is just 50 feet, and you can see much of it from there, you can also go down the steps and walk among Dolomite Limestone escarpment and the narrow channels. Some of the group enjoyed the wild flowers that were out in full force. There were May Apples, Jack-in-the-pulpit’s, Purple and yellow Violets, Trilliums, and various other nice smelling flora! We drove through the campground and then off to the next location.
We then headed a few miles across town to the Nitschke Indian Burial Mounds near Burnett (WI) and after a brief rest and lunch at the shelter we walked the trails between the mounds and to the “open surface spring” that feeds the ponds. The geese swimming in the pond just yards away made the setting peaceful and relaxing! The benches along the paths provided nice rest areas along the way. Once again; while there is a mile of wooded trails, you can see much of the displays within a hundred yards or so; and is not too far to walk.
A few found some sort of mushrooms that were growing on trees and were excited with their “finds” as they harvested them and stuffed to spore laden delicacies into their back packs. I was looking for morels. And while I found a couple on Friday….I went home empty handed. I am only familiar with two forms of edible mushrooms and found it interesting to learn from those more experienced about the various kinds. I just remember the old saying: “There are old mushroom hunters, and bold mushroom hunters. But there are no old bold mushroom hunters”!
Then we headed off the abandoned Iron Ridge Iron Mines between Iron Ridge and Mayville (WI). It was a history lesson more than anything on the FIRST Iron Mine in Wisconsin and the First Smelting operation in Wisconsin until higher grade Iron Ore was discovered and harvested in Vulcan, Michigan and Flambeau, WI. The mines are now closed to the public, and it is now a Hibernarioun for the third largest bat population in North America, and is a study facility on the little brown flying mosquito eating critters! But none the less; we are still able to see where the Wisconsin Iron Industry started, and how the earth heals itself over time; after the mining operation cease and the area is rehabilitated and allowed to grow over. The mines were home to three different types of mining and are now 100 years later are a lush overgrowth of wildlife and trees that are the back yard to a residential area and historic land formations. The highlight for me was that I met a land owner who still has “limited access” to the area were the mining actually took place and invited me to do some exploring on another day! I am definitely going to take advantage of this offer and get some pictures and report back on this!
Around 5:00 pm we drove to Hartford to the “Mineshaft Restaurant” where we shared food, stories, memories, ideas and laughs! After a full day we all headed home for a well-deserved rest; with fresh memories and stories to share! It was fun and fact filled day!