Marker Logo HMdb.org THE HISTORICAL
MARKER DATABASE
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Madison in Dane County, Wisconsin — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
 

Mound City

Lake Monona: People

 
 
Mound City Marker image. Click for full size.
By William J. Toman, September 2, 2010
1. Mound City Marker
Inscription. More than a thousand mounds once dotted the shores of Madison's lakes, so many that archaeologist Charles Brown favored the name Mound City for Madison. In the early 1900s, Brown found 160 mounds in 17 groups around Lake Monona. Native people (ancestors of Wisconsin's modern Native Nations) sculpted these raised-earth shapes 800 to 2,000 years ago. Most contained burials. Conical, linear, and animal-shaped mounds are arranged carefully on the land, likely representing sacred beings. Mound sites are in places of natural beauty and high biodiversity. Today, Madisonians can see bird, goose, bear, deer, and long-tailed water-spirit mounds in public parks throughout the area.

Madison's lakes and savannas contained amazing plant and animal diversity. This ecological wealth created a natural gathering place. Early inhabitants hunted and gathered food, grew corn, made camps, and held ceremonies. Later, Ho-Chunks lived on Lake Monona at the Yahara River outlet, on the Isthmus, and in present-day Monona. Settlers started to arrive in the 1830s, also drawn by the lakes and good soil. In the next decade, James Doty surveyed the Isthmus for a capital city.

Dividing Ridge and Drumlins
Until
1910 an 80-foot-tall dividing ridge, half a mile long, rose between Lake Monona and Lake Wingra. The ridgetop had
Closeup of Mound City Marker image. Click for full size.
By William J. Toman, September 2, 2010
2. Closeup of Mound City Marker
Caption: Tonyawatha, one of the summer resorts that gave Lake Monona a wide reputation for healthy water and beautiful views.
stunning views of Lake Monona and the Isthmus. About 25 effigy mounds were built on its slopes. A moraine left by the last glacier, the ridge was composed of sand and gravel. It was steadily quarried to fill wetlands and build streets between 1870 and 1910. The glacier also left Madison with drumlins, which are elevated, egg-shaped deposits. The Capitol, University's Bascom Hall, and Edgewood College stand on drumlins.

Effigy Mound Builders
Effigy
mounds are scattered around Lake Monona. Unfortunately only a small number survived city settlement. Native people usually formed mounds on high, scenic ground overlooking water, such as the old dividing ridge above Monona Bay, on the drumlin where the Capitol now stands, and between Hudson and Olbrich parks. Effigy mounds were no longer built after about 1100. Perhaps a changing society based on growing corn created new ceremonies.

Lake Monona Summer Resorts
In
the late 1800s, Lake Monona was a popular summer resort destination. Lakeside House (located at today's Olin-Turville Park), Tonyawatha Hotel, and Winnequah resort promoted Lake Monona's clean, pure waters. Visitors, many from the South, could dance in pavilions, boat and swim, play billiards or bowl, and dine elegantly. Steamboats carried tourists (and residents) to places around the lake. Boats landed near here at Angle Worm Station.

Madison
Closeup of Mound City Marker image. Click for full size.
By William J. Toman, September 2, 2010
3. Closeup of Mound City Marker
Caption: O-wan-ich-koh, or Little Elk, a Ho-Chunk (formerly Winnebago) chief painted in Prairie du Chien in 1825.
Remakes its Lakes
Lake
Monona once produced high-quality ice for Milwaukee, Chicago, and points south. Each winter throughout the 1860s and 1870s, railroad cars shipped ice from near this spot. But water (and ice) quality dropped as Madison grew. By 1880, ever-larger volumes of sewage poured into Lake Monona, causing a nightmare for residents and city government. Today, sediments, pollutants, livestock manure, and fertilizers flowing through the Yahara River watershed are Lake Monona's greatest environmental challenges.
 
Erected by the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center. (Marker Number 2.)
 
Location. 43° 4.29′ N, 89° 22.786′ W. Marker is in Madison, Wisconsin, in Dane County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of Wilson Street and Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, on the left when traveling west. Click for map. The marker is on the lake railing in the Center Circle of the William T. Evjue Rooftop Gardens at the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center. Marker is at or near this postal address: One John Nolen Drive, Madison WI 53703, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Black Hawk (within shouting distance of this marker); Third Lake (within shouting
Closeup of Mound City Marker image. Click for full size.
By William J. Toman, September 2, 2010
4. Closeup of Mound City Marker
Caption: Instead of building a canal across the isthmus, Madison channelized the Yahara River.
distance of this marker); Otis Redding (within shouting distance of this marker); Pioneer Men and Women (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Olin Terrace (about 500 feet away); Madison Club (about 500 feet away); The Fairchild Home (about 500 feet away); State Office Building (about 500 feet away). Click for a list of all markers in Madison.
 
Also see . . .  Madison is an Indian mound capital. (related marker with links to markers for area effigy mounds) (Submitted on September 10, 2010, by William J. Toman of Green Lake, Wisconsin.) 
 
Categories. EnvironmentNative AmericansSettlements & Settlers
 
Closeup of Mound City Marker image. Click for full size.
By William J. Toman, September 2, 2010
5. Closeup of Mound City Marker
The map shows Black Hawk's route through the isthmus; the locations of effigy mound groups, Ho-Chunk villages, glacial features, and present-day parks; and Lake Monona facts.
Mound City Marker image. Click for full size.
By William J. Toman, September 2, 2010
6. Mound City Marker
Overlooking Lake Monona
View from the Mound City Marker image. Click for full size.
By William J. Toman, September 2, 2010
7. View from the Mound City Marker
Looking away from Lake Monona toward the State Capitol
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by William J. Toman of Green Lake, Wisconsin. This page has been viewed 611 times since then and 17 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. submitted on , by William J. Toman of Green Lake, Wisconsin. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
Paid Advertisement