Near Baraboo in Sauk County, Wisconsin — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
Early History of Devil's Lake
Devil's Lake was created when the last glacier to visit this area began to retreat approximately 14,000 years ago. Glacial debris plugged both ends of the Devil's Lake Gorge as the ice melted. An ancient river that once flowed through the gorge was diverted away by these glacial plugs called terminal moraines. A lake was left behind as a gift from the glacier!
The first inhabitants of the Devil's Lake Area would arrive as the glacier began its final retreat. Native Americans would live here for 500 generations before the first recorded white person, John T. de La Ronde, would arrive in 1832.
They believed that a good spirit, or Manitou, dwelled in the depths of the lake. In their language, they called the lake "Spirit Lake" or "Sacred Lake."
After de La Ronde's visit, settlers would soon be drawn to this mystical lake as stories were told of the magnificent purple bluffs that rose 500 feet above the water. These settlers of European descent would bring with them the customs they knew of land ownership and fencing the land.
Unexplained noises that would echo off of the bluffs added to the mystical aura of the gorge.
Thinking in terms of evil spirits, they would soon corrupt the name "Spirit Lake" to "Devil's Lake."
Caption for upper right photo on marker: Between 700 and 1100 AD, earthen mounds in the shapes of animals were constructed near the lake by a Middle-Woodland culture of Native American called Effigy Mound Builders. The mounds exist to this day.
Caption for map at bottom right on marker: Early map of Devil's Lake.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Environment • Native Americans • Settlements & Settlers.
Location. 43° 24.549′ N, 89° 43.62′ W. Marker is near Baraboo, Wisconsin, in Sauk County. Marker can be reached from South Lake Road 3 miles west of Wisconsin Highway 113, on the right when traveling west. The marker is in the South Shore area of Devil's Lake State Park (an entrance fee is required). Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Baraboo WI 53913, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 4 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. North Shore Hotel Era (here, next to this marker); Devil's Lake and the Local Residents (here, next to this marker); South Shore Hotel EraIce Age National Scientific Reserve (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Civilian Conservation Corps (approx. 0.8 miles away); Warner Memorial Road (approx. 1.3 miles away); Ringling Brothers Circus (approx. 3.4 miles away); Indian Mounds and Village (approx. 3.9 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Baraboo.
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on November 6, 2010, by William J. Toman of Green Lake, Wisconsin. This page has been viewed 897 times since then and 40 times this year. Photos: 1. submitted on November 6, 2010, by William J. Toman of Green Lake, Wisconsin. 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on November 7, 2010, by William J. Toman of Green Lake, Wisconsin. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.