Stop 1: The Third Lake Passage
(Olbrich Park, 3330 Atwood Ave., Madison)
Take the Beltline (12/18) to Monona Drive
exit; travel north on Monona Drive which becomes Atwood Avenue.
Olbrich Park is on Atwood. Historical Marker #398.
July 20, 1832
Surgeon's Mate John A Wakefield, Illinois Militia under Henry writes:
We reached the first of the Four Lakes [Madison, Wisconsin] about sun down [on July 19]...Here it may not be uninteresting to the reader, to give a small outline of those lakes. From a description of the country, a person would very naturally suppose that those lakes were as little pleasing to the eye of the traveller, as the country is. But not so. I think they are the most beautiful bodies of water I ever saw. The first one that we came to, was about ten miles in circumference, and the water as clear as crystal...The second one that we came to appeared to be much larger. It must have been twenty miles in circumference. The ground rose very high all around; - and the heaviest kind of timber grew close to the water's edge. If those lakes were anywhere else, except in the country they are, they would be considered among the wonders of the world. But the country they are situated in is not fit for any civilized nation of people to inhabit.1
John Wakefield and the militiamen of Dodge and Henry camped near what is now Lake Monona in pursuit of Black Hawk at sunset on July 20, 1832. Black Hawk had already maneuvered his starving people through the isthmus of Four Lakes on a scorching 90 degree Wisconsin summer day. The Ho-Chunk guide for the militiamen, Pierre Pauquette, told the soldiers to wait until the morning of the 21st to continue pursuing Black Hawk.
The isthmus is nothing like we see now. Now most of the isthmus is paved over with crowded streets like State Street and guarded by University buildings. In 1832, the isthmus is swampy and covered with weeds and woods so thick that the soldiers "could turn neither to the right nor to the left, but were compelled to follow the trail the Indians had made."2