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Dictionary of Wisconsin History

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Term: Eau Claire County [origin of place name]

Definition: named for the river that runs through this county.  In 1767, Frenchman Jonathan Carver and his voyageurs came up the Chippewa River by way of the Mississippi River.  Both waterways had been swollen from recent rains and were exceedingly muddy, rendering them unpotable to the thirsty voyageurs.  Suprised to find clear water at the mouth of the present-day Eau Claire River, they cried, "L'eau claire!" meaning "clear water". 

[Source: Stennett, William H. A history of the origin of the place names in nine Northwestern States (Chicago, 1908), p. 174.]
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