The Old Village of Dekorra
Before the introduction of the railroad, the Wisconsin River provided one of the most practical means of transporting lumber and farm products to distant markets. The old Village of Dekorra was beautifully situated to take advantage of this river traffic. It had a good river landing that had been long used by native people and the landing provided access to a system of Native American trails, some of which would be developed into early Wisconsin territorial roads.
The river landing was first platted by Thompson, Trimble and Morton as Kentucky City in 1837. The first and only building in the city was the home of Lafayette Hill, which also served as an inn and tavern. The original settlement well site is marked with a replica of the old windlass well, a few hundred feet to the east of this marker.
Thompson and Trimble took sole ownership of the landing in 1843 and replatted it as the Village of Dekorra. It was named for Old Gray-headed Decorah, a well respected Ho-Chunk leader of the time. Thompson and Trimble had the Dekorra Mill built outside of the village on Rocky Run Creek. It was the first gristmill in south-central Wisconsin. Though the mill is long gone, the mill granary still stands today, northeast of the County JV junction. Remnants of the millrace and the millpond can also be found just east of the mill site.
As lumber raft traffic increased around the great Wisconsin pinery, the Village of Dekorra quickly became an important lumber distribution center for Madison and the surrounding area. The thriving village had a thousand foot wharf, inns, taverns, several stores, two blacksmiths, a wagon maker, and a post office. It also boasted one of the best ferries on the river, which operated from where the DNR boat landing is located today.
The completion of the Madison-Portage Railroad in 1870,
which bypassed the village, led to the eventual end of the flow
of lumber rafts and to a decline in the local mill trade.
The Village of Dekorra slowly disappeared, leaving
few reminders of its vibrant past.
Erected 2020 by Wisconsin Historical Society. (Marker Number 591.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & Commerce • Native Americans • Settlements & Settlers • Waterways & Vessels. In addition, it is included in the Wisconsin Historical Society series list.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 6 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Rest Areas on the I-Roads (approx. 2.3 miles away); The Circus (approx. 2.4 miles away); Wisconsin Veterans Memorial Highway (approx. 2˝ miles away); Veterans of the American Revolution Memorial Bridge (approx. 2˝ miles away); Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet (approx. 5.3 miles away); Pierre Pauquette Ferry (approx. 5.4 miles away); Zona Gale (approx. 5.6 miles away); Frederick Jackson Turner (approx. 5.6 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Poynette.
Credits. This page was last revised on January 25, 2021. It was originally submitted on December 28, 2020, by Fitzie Heimdahl of Eau Claire, Wisconsin. This page has been viewed 289 times since then and 253 times this year. Last updated on January 25, 2021, by Fitzie Heimdahl of Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Photo 1. submitted on December 28, 2020, by Fitzie Heimdahl of Eau Claire, Wisconsin. • Mark Hilton was the editor who published this page.