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Dictionary of Wisconsin History

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Term: Yahara River, Dane Co.

Definition: From Increase Lapham's 1844 Geographical and Topographical Description of Wisconsin:

"The CATFISH RIVER, or outlet of the Four lakes, between the Fourth and Third lakes, one mile, has a width of from sixty to one hundred feet, and a depth of three feet, except near the Fourth lake, where the width is only thirty-five feet, and the depth two. The descent is estimated at a little less than two feet. Between the Third and Second lakes the descent is but very little; the average width is about three hundred and fifty feet; and the depth varies from one to nine feet; distance, seven-eighths of a mile. Between the Second and First lakes, three and a half miles, there are three slight rapids, having a total descent of about two feet; and the depth of water varies from one to three or four feet. From the First lake to Dunkirk Falls, nine miles, there is but little fall in the river, the water being usually deep, and about one hundred and thirty feet average width. The best method of improving the navigation of this stream would probably be, to build a dam at this point, about six feet high, which would increase sufficiently the depth of the channel, and bring all the lakes to the level of the Fourth lake, thus making a connected navigation for small steamboats through the whole distance, without further expense. At the Dunkirk Falls there is a rapid, in which the descent is six feet, in a distance of one and one-fourth miles, there being no perpendicular fall. The banks are from fifty to sixty feet high, and the valley is much contracted. From this point to Rock river, twelve miles, there is a constant succession of rapids -- one having seven feet and four inches descent in a distance of about one mile. The whole descent on these rapids, (twenty-five in all) was ascertained by Capt. Cram, to be thirty-four and sixty-eight hundredths feet. The Catfish enters Rock river eleven and a half miles below the foot of Lake Koshkonong. The whole length of the stream, from the head of the Fourth lake, is forty miles, twenty-eight of which could be made navigable by the erection of one dam at Dunkirk, not exceeding six feet in height."

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