I was traveling through Hatfield in northeastern Jackson County, on my way to Black River Falls, and spotted a group of ATV'ers, some of whom had just emerged from a trail, some of whom were trying to decide whether to take on the trail. It was wet, and the ATV crews told me the trails were very muddy and that several ATVs were having to be hauled out. This lad was with his dad getting fuel. It's kind of hard to figure out. The kid is one hunk of mud, while his ATV is almost spotless! Ha! He looked content.
CH W Crosses the Black River just southwest of North Bend (Hwy 54), in the southwestern corner of Jackson County. Nearby, spectacular and varied landscapes.
This sign is at one of the entries to Black River Falls in Jackson County. It is a historical sign celebrating Hagen’s A&W Root Beer Stand in Black River Falls that served the community for 35 years, run by Jack and his wife, Virginia.
This is a photo of the old Black River Fall Dam, taken when I was there in May 2010. There were a lot of problems with this 100 year old dam so a project was begun to tear it down and build a completely new one in its place. In this photo, you can see that what was the reservoir behind the dam has been allowed to empty. The water level behind the dam is the same as in front of it. This was in preparation for tearing it down. The most visible tear down of the old dam began on about July 10, 2010, and she was completely down by about August 23, 2010. The new dam is expected to be up and running by spring 2013, as soon as the Black River can be impounded. The new one has eight 27-by-14 foot gates, which have already been installed. When I took this photo, I had no idea all this was going on. Amazing.
Downtown Black River Falls.
The southeastern sector of the state is remarkable country. Much of it is occupied by the Bear Bluff State Natural Area (SNA), largely owned by the state's Department of Natural Resources and Jackson County.
This is an extensive wetland complex with occasional ridges occupying much of the bed of the extinct Glacial Lake Wisconsin, part of what is known as the "Great Swamp of Central Wisconsin." The area of Bear Bluff I entered, in the far southeastern corner of the county, has several lakes of different sizes, and lots of marshlands, including cranberry marshes.
On the day I ventured into this area, there were some very threatening storms, the roads went from paved to gravel to soft gravel, almost sand-like. The deeper I went, the more concerned I became about getting caught on these soft gravel roads once they became very wet, so I opted to get out and come back again later. This is a marvelous place to explore. I'll show what I saw on this trip.
I entered in CH HH in the southeastern corner of the county. Pretty quickly I came upon a lake.
As you near the edges of the lake, you can spot how the marshlands take over.
A closer view of the marshland area. This region is good cranberry growing country.
This is a pretty view of a cranberry marsh or bog, with a ridge in the distance.
If you were to view all this from the sky, you would see a system of irrigation canals directing the water from the marshes to various cranberry bogs. This is one such canal along CH HH near the intersection with Dutcher.
I next decided to get off the main drags and hit some of those gravel roads that I would soon find turned to sand.
This is Goodyear Rd, which shot off CH HH. It is made of soft gravel. Note the trenches on both sides to handle any flooding that might occur.
This is a closer look at what they mean by soft gravel. To me it was sand. Even dry it was tough to on which to drive. You can see I was headed into a storm. I worried about what would happen to this road if it were to be soaked with rain, so I turned around and went home. Lucky thing. By the time I got back to CH HH it was pouring.
This is the dam that is part of the Hatfield Hydroelectric Plant of North American Hydro, in northeastern Jackson County. It dams up the Black River and creates Lake Arbutus.
I got a real kick out of this dam as you could walk all over it. A lot of people, including kids, were fishing from it. I really liked this rail track, as does the kid walk on it.