Wisconsin’s Counties - a Photo Portfolio - Douglas County

Douglas County, in Wisconsin’s northwest corner, is a fascinating place to visit. It hosts one of the state’s major water-highways, the Bois Brule-St. Croix River Portage Trail. Early travels found their way to Douglas County by this means and provided a good connecting link bewteen Lake Superior and the Mississippi River to the southwest. Superior is the county seat. A northern slivver of the county is in the Lake Superior Lowlands Geographic Province, while most of the rest of the ciounty is in the Northern Highlands. This, its many important rivers and its location in the Lake Superior-St. Croix watershed give its geographic landscape a wide and very interesting variety.

While in Duluth, Minnesota, we came upon the West Skyline Parkway which overlooks all Duluth and Superior, Wisconsin. This is an amazing way to view the area, and incredible port complex at the western end of Lake Superior. The port by the way is known as the Port of Duluth-Superior. All shots are from the Minnesota side.


Fundamentally, the upper half of the photo is of Superior, Wisconsin, the bottom half of Duluth. The river between the two is the St. Louis River.


A zoomer of the left (north) sid of the above photo, Superior


A zoomer of the right (south) part of the first photo, still Superior. Note the huge mound of coal piled up.


And a look at the St Louis River, half in Minnesota, half in Wisconsin

A continental divide in Douglas County causes waters in a large spring-fed swamp-marshland area to flow out to the northeast as the Brule River and to the southwest into Upper St Croix Lake out of which emerges the St. Croix River. This is truly fascinating to visit, and an even more fascinating study. The Brule heads out to empty into Lake Superior and the St Croix flows into the Mississippi River to the southwest.


For the sake of discussion, I defer to the expertise of John Lindquist on the origins of each river. I subscribe to the notion that their origins, spring-fed and surrounded by marshland, are so close that the water may pop out and decide to go one and then the other.

I took this shot from CH P just south of Stone Chimney Rd. After consulting with maps, local markers, and local residents, I concluded this was the marshland from which springs the Brule River, about as close to the source as I could get. The water was quite high on this day in August.


Local residents told me that the water was so high at this time of the year, that on the other side of CH P, seen in this shot, was the St. Croix, actually an overflowing marshland feeding a creek that in turn feeds the north end of St. Croix Lake, which you can barley see in the distance. I’ll go with that and study this more later.


This for sure is the northeast section of Upper Lake St. Croix, close to Solon Springs, and close to where I took the previous shot.


Just to the north of Solon Springs, I believe we were on CH P (I took lousy notes, argh), I came across this trail which I would learn is the Brule Bog Boardwalk Trail.


I walked about a mile or so into it. I believe it is just over two miles long. It was fantastic in there.


After walking for about 10-15 minutes, I found this stream. I got a “hot-foot” getting a photo of her, but I’m calling this part of the Brule River on the move out of the bog.

I have read that the Brule is 44 miles long. The southern portion of the river travels through bog land fed by many springs. About 18 miles south of Lake Superior, at the Copper Range, she drops 328 feet. This is when she exits the Northern Highlands Geographic Province and enters the Lake Superior Lowlands Geographic province.


You can visit the Copper Range State Park and see the old Brule pick up steam.

I and my wife followed the Brule all the way to Lake Superior by car, and a little by foot with “hot-feet” along the way! Sneakers did not do the trick --- boots would have been more fun. I intend to do a story on the adventure. I should try to learn how to navigate her by kayak.


After exploring a little trail down to the river, and after sliding in the mud a bit, I ended up at river’s edge, only to see these two ladies swinging around the curve. They are not far from Lake Superior at this point and clearly in the Lake Superior Lowlands.


And she goes, the Brule into Lake Superior, I and my wife having followed her by car all the way from her source in the bogs.

South of Superior is what is known as Douglas Fault, which runs diagonally from the border with Minnesota in a northeasterly direction “ending up” southeast of Superior. It is the site of earthquakes that occurred hundreds of millions years ago. We found two fantastic places in this region: the Amincom River Falls Park and Pattison State Park. Here again, I need to do stories about each, but want to show you a few photos of each in this gallery.

First Amnicom.




Now over to Pattison Park and her Manitou Falls, west of the Amnicom Park.


The source of the Manitou Falls is the Black River. She is the highest in Wisconsin at 165 ft. and is the fourth highest east of the Rockies. It is here where the Black River drops out of the Northern Highlands and into the Lake Superior lowlands.



Look carefully at the center of the photo and you can see the Black River heading out toward Lake Superior.

I find the meeting of the Lake Superior Lowlands and Northern Highlands Geographic Provinces of the state to be fascinating. While in Douglas County, I took a couple of shots of the lowlands in the foreground and the highlands in the background. Besides that, the countryside is just beautiful.