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Current Issue of the Wisconsin Magazine of History

Spring 2020, Volume 103, Number 3

Current Issue of the Wisconsin Magazine of History | Wisconsin Historical Society
EnlargeWisconsin Magazine of History | Grand Portage imagined in 1792 by Howard Sivertson

Grand Portage imagined in 1792

Howard Sivertson

Wisconsin Magazine of History Cover Image

Grand Portage, located on Lake Superior’s northern shore at the Canada–United States border, was one of several trading posts frequented by the Cadotte family, whose fur trading exploits are explored in this issue’s book excerpt, The Cadottes: A Fur Trade Family on Lake Superior, by Robert Silbernagel, released this spring by the Wisconsin Historical Society Press. Here, artist Howard Sivertson imagines the post as it might have appeared in 1792, when the North West Company was in full operation. 

Table of Contents

EnlargeMeteor showers like the Perseids, seen here above Cana Island Lighthouse in Door County, are vivid reminders of Earth’s place in space

Meteor showers like the Perseids, seen here above Cana Island Lighthouse in Door County, are vivid reminders of Earth’s place in space

Matthew Vahl


A Cosmic Visitor: The 1917 Meterorite Fall in Colby, Wisconsin

By Marcia Bjornerud and Keith Kleinstick

Preoccupied with the noise and bustle of human affairs, we easily forget that we are also citizens of the cosmos. Me­teor showers like the Perseids, which pass by every year, are vivid reminders of Earth’s place in space. Although the streaks of light in these natural fireworks displays are often called shooting or falling stars, they are actually produced when clusters of icy comets or rocky meteoroids vapor­ize high in the atmosphere. Such events often produce spectacular light shows, but occasionally the chunks of extra­terrestrial ice or rock don’t completely disintegrate and continue hurtling down to the Earth’s surface. This happened on July 4, 1917, in Colby, Wisconsin, when a rock weighing at least 150 pounds plunged from the sky in the middle of the town’s holiday festivities. In this issue, geologist Marcia Bjornerud and ama­teur astronomer Keith Kleinstick tell the story of the dramatic arrival of the Colby meteorite, as well as its origin in the early solar system and its continuing impor­tance in the history of science.

EnlargeStill raid in Washington DC in 1922

Still raids, like this one in Washington, DC, in 1922, were major news. The still pictured here with IRS and police officials standing by was boasted as being “the largest still in captivity.”


On the Banks of the Lemonweir: A Prohibition Murder in Juneau County

By Karla Riley

In Juneau County, Wisconsin, a district attorney’s discovery of a large moonshine operation in Wisconsin leads to an investigation into profiteering and bribery—and ends in his murder. The discovery of the Kilbourn still, one of the largest in the state, and the likely collusion of a well-regarded sheriff in this small Wisconsin community together reveal how far the tendrils of illegal activity reached during Prohibition to affect small rural communities. Prohibition created a divide that drove formerly law-abiding citizens to crime, connecting some to urban networks that used intimidation and even violence to ensure the underground trade prospered. The Kilbourn incident was just the beginning of a sprawling story of corruption, organized crime, and murder in Juneau County.

EnlargeGeneva Lake Water Safety Patrol boat in 1938

In 1938, the Geneva Lake Water Safety Patrol acquired a 135-horsepower Garwood patrol boat, which allowed rescuers to respond to emergency calls with significant speed.


A Century of Running the Reds: The Trailblazing, Lifesaving History of the Geneva Lake Water Safety Patrol

by Anne Morrissy

Anne Morrissy shares the organizational history of this one-of-a-kind Wisconsin institution, the Geneva Lake Water Safety Patrol. Now a century old, the WSP has been a national pioneer in lifesaving, emergency response, and swimming and boating regulations at one of our state’s most-loved resort destinations. Over its hundred-year history, what began as a committee of concerned citizens affiliated with the Lake Geneva chapter of the American Red Cross became one of the most innovative, progressive programs for water safety and education in the nation.

A subscription to the Wisconsin Magazine of History is a benefit of membership to the Wisconsin Historical Society. The current issue, described above, will become available in the online archives as soon the next issue is published.

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