The early French traders and explorers who came to the upper lakes naturally ascended their affluents, and in this way La Salle, Joliet, Hennepin and others crossed the portages beyond Lake Michigan to the tributaries of the Mississippi. They came to Green Bay on the west side of Lake Michigan, ascended the Fox River and crossed over to the Wisconsin River. Southward from the Upper Michigan Peninsula and westward of the lower peninsula of that State spreads the broad expanse of Lake Michigan, stretching from Mackinac and Green Bay down to Chicago. Its western shore is the State of Wisconsin, extending northward to Lake Superior. When the French explorers came along and floated down its chief river, an affluent of the Mississippi, the latter making the western boundary of the State, they found the Indian name of the stream to be a word which, according to the pronunciation, they spelled in their early narratives ” Ouisconsing ” and “Misconsin” and it finally came out in the present form of Wisconsin, thus naming the State. The original meaning was the ” wild, rushing red water,” from the hue given by the pine and tamarack forests. La Salle coasted in his canoe all along the western shore of Lake Michigan, from Green Bay down to Chicago, and crossed over to the Mississippi. The traders established various settlements on that shore which have grown into active cities, and the principal one, eighty-five miles north of Chicago, is Milwaukee, its name derived from the Indian Mannawahkie, meaning the “good land.” A broad harbor, indented several miles from the lake, was the nucleus of the city, at the mouth of Milwaukee River, which receives two tributaries within the town, and thus adds to the facilities for dockage, while extensive break-waters protect the harbor entrance from lake storms.
Milwaukee has three hundred and fifty thousand people, and is the growth mainly of the latter half of the nineteenth century. It is finely located, with undulating surface, the streets lined with trees, and the splendid development of the residential section making it almost like an extensive park, the foliage and garden spaces are so extensive and attractive. Its population is largely German, and its breweries are famous, exporting their product all over the country. It has a grand Federal building, costing nearly $2,000,000, a Romanesque structure in granite, an elaborate Court-house of brown sandstone, a spacious City Hall, a magnificent Public Library and Museum, and many attractive churches and other edifices. Juneau Park, on a bluff overlooking the lake, commemorates the first settler, Solomon Juneau, and contains his statue. Here, in compliment to the large Scandinavian population of Wisconsin, is also a statue of Leif Ericsen, who is said to have been in command of the first detachment of Norsemen who landed in New England in the eleventh century. The Forest Home Cemetery at the southwestern verge of the city is one of the most beautiful in the country. Milwaukee is familiarly called the “Cream City” from the light-colored brick made in the neighborhood, which so largely enter into the construction of its buildings. It has extensive grain elevators and flour mills and large manufacturing industries. To the westward, in a park of four hundred acres, is the National Soldiers’ Home, with accommodation for twenty-four hundred. Its Sheridan Drive along the lake shore southward is gradually extending, the intention being to connect with the Sheridan Boulevard constructed northward from Chicago. The lion of the city, however, is the great Pabst Brewery, covering thirty-four acres and producing eight hundred thousand barrels of beer a year. Twenty miles in-land to the westward is a favorite resort of the Milwaukeans, the noted Bethesda Spring of Waukesha, whose waters they find it beneficial to take copiously, large quantities being also exported throughout America and Europe for their efficacy in diabetes and Bright’s disease.
The capital of Wisconsin is the city of Madison, seventy-five miles west of Milwaukee, built on the isthmus between Lakes Mendota and Monona, thus giving it an admirable position. It has about twenty thousand people, and the lake attractions make it a popular summer resort. The State Capitol is a handsome building in a spacious park, one of the wings being occupied by the Wisconsin Historical Society, with a library of two hundred thousand volumes, an art gallery and museum. The great structure of Madison is the University of Wisconsin, the buildings in a commanding position on University Hill overlooking the charming Lake Mendota. There are seventeen hundred students, and its Washburn Observatory, one of the best in America, has wide fame.