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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Wisconsin Dells in Columbia County, Wisconsin — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
 

River Excursions

Leroy Gates - Dells' First River Guide

 
 
River Excursions Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, September 2, 2020
1. River Excursions Marker
Inscription.  River excursions in Wisconsin Dells were born from one man's a-ha moment. Leroy Gates gained notoriety as an expert lumber raft pilot, guiding the bundled wood planks through the tricky waters of the Dells. He began to make a show of his skills, doing a top hat and coat as onlookers lined the riverbank. Gates has the foresight to see how he could live off the river beyond rafting. In 1849, he turned his knowledge of the waterway into a new business showing visitors the beautiful scenery by rowboat, having passengers themselves paddle while he provided commentary. This marked the beginning of the tourism trade with scenic boat tours and earned Gates status as Wisconsin Dells' first entrepreneur.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: EntertainmentNatural FeaturesWaterways & Vessels.
 
Location. 43° 37.709′ N, 89° 46.629′ W. Marker is in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, in Columbia County. Marker can be reached from Broadway near Eddy Street, on the left when traveling north. This marker is found on the Wisconsin Dells
River Excursions Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, September 2, 2020
2. River Excursions Marker
The marker is on the right.
Riverwalk. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 105 Broadway, Wisconsin Dells WI 53965, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Railroads (here, next to this marker); The Wisconsin River (within shouting distance of this marker); The Kilbourn Dam (within shouting distance of this marker); History of the Wisconsin Dells (within shouting distance of this marker); Geology of the Wisconsin Dells (within shouting distance of this marker); Alexander Mitchell Steamboat Anchor (within shouting distance of this marker); The Ho-Chunk People (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Bailey’s Eddy – Municipal Dock (about 300 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Wisconsin Dells.
 
More about this marker. The "Riverwalk" is a public path along a portion of the Wisconsin River. Eleven makers are found along this path. Road access to the path is only available at the beginning and end of the "Riverwalk."
 
Also see . . .  Wisconsin Dells -- Streaming Through America. Long before kitsch and water parks ruled the region, visitors from around the world traveled to the Dells to marvel at the iconic sandstone formations... Word of this discovery spread quickly, attracting Leroy Gates, a lumber rafter with a notion that promotion would bring tourism to the river he loved, and earn him a buck or two to boot. In 1856, Gates offered the first guided boat tours of the Dells of Wisconsin, and made sure everyone knew it. (Submitted on September 30, 2020, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California.) 
 
Excursion boat dock from the marker overlook. image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, September 2, 2020
3. Excursion boat dock from the marker overlook.
Leroy Gates 'business card'; lost in the shadows image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, September 2, 2020
4. Leroy Gates 'business card'; lost in the shadows
"Leroy Gates Dells & River Pilot from 1849 to 63"
An earlier version of Gate's advertisement image. Click for full size.
By Unknown, July 21, 2019
5. An earlier version of Gate's advertisement
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on October 1, 2020. It was originally submitted on September 30, 2020, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California. This page has been viewed 42 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on September 30, 2020, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California.   5. submitted on October 1, 2020, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California.
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Oct. 28, 2020