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Odd Wisconsin Archive

Tarzan of Rhinelander?


"...she had been carried off her feet by the strength of the young giant when his great arms were about her in the distant African forest, and again today, in the Wisconsin woods..."

So wrote Edgar Rice Burroughs in one of the most famous pulp novels in American history, Tarzan of the Apes, first published in New York by A.C. McClurg in 1914. Near the end of the book, the first in the series, we learn that Jane Porter spent her earliest years on a farm in northern Wisconsin before venturing with her scientist father across the Atlantic. After Tarzan rescued Jane in the African jungle, learned English and French (and so much more about civilized life), she abandoned him by agreeing to marry an evil creditor of her father. She goes to live with the villain in a farmhouse left to her by her mother -- in northern Wisconsin.

Of course, the story cannot end there, and a forest fire that echoes Peshtigo's is introduced to liven up the narrative. Just as her childhood home and Jane herself are about to be consumed by the flames, Tarzan miraculously appears, swinging limb to limb through what today is the Nicolet National Forest, to pluck her from the jaws of death.

All this occurs in the book's penultimate episode, Chapter 27, in which Tarzan also... Well, don't let me spoil it for you. Click and read it for yourself.

For some even more bizarre tales of Wisconsin forests, visit Turning Points in Wisconsin History where you'll find early versions of the Paul Bunyan stories. These were collected in our northwoods by a young woman folklorist at the same time Edgar Rice Burroughs brought Jane Porter and Tarzan to the Badger State.
:: Posted in Curiosities on August 14, 2008

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