Surveys of the Boundary between
Michigan & Wiskonsin
The operations relative to the Survey of the Boundary between the State of Michigan and the Territory of Wiskonsin for the summer of 1841, have been confined to the object directed in the order from the Bureau of Topographical Engineers of 30th March 1841, in which I was instructed as follows.
"Your operations should have in view a correct delineation of the country between the head waters of the Menomonee and Montreal Rivers, so that all the matter requisite it to determine a boundary between those points can be laid before Congress: A correct survey of these two rivers should also be made etc."
II. Survey of the country, between the head waters of the Menomonee and Montreal. From the survey intervening country as far as it was prosecuted in the autumn of 1840. (Senate Doc: 151, 26th Congress 2nd Sess.) the conclusion was drawn that there was not to be found existing in nature any continuous natural boundary, as had been supposed in the Act of Congress defining this boundary between the head water of the Menomonee and of the Montreal River; and therefore it became necessary to make a delineation of the country intervening between these head waters, and along in the intended direction of the route of this boundary - Accordingly.
The survey of this intervening district (see Map N0 1) was commenced at Lac Vieux Desert - the plan when the operation stopped in the autumn of 1840 - and was extended in the direction as nearly as could conveniently be ascertained towards the head waters of the Montreal
After reaching what was supposed to be those head waters the line of the survey was carried down stream to Lake Superior - when it was discovered that the Ontonagon and not the Montreal had been reached and thus it was conclusively proven that the head waters of the Montreal were to be found a very considerable distance farther to the west then had generally been supposed; and the evidence of this circumstance was very much strengthened by having discovered the year before that Lac Vieux Desert was the head of the Wiskonsin which it was known ran towards the South instead of being as was formerly supposed and represented on the maps - the head of the Montreal.
Map No 1 exhibits the head waters of the Montreal as they were subsequently found during the progress of our survey. The point designated "Astronomical Motion No 2" is the head proper of the Montreal River of Lake Superior, and is the junction of two inconsiderable streams not more than 20 to 30 feet wide called Balsam & Pine Rivers.
The latter of these streams was explored to its very head and found to come from a small lake; and all its feeders are represented on the Map. This small lake was connected by an offset like with the main line of the Survey; so that if Congress should deem it necessary or expedient to constitute this little lake which I have named "Pine Lake" as the head of the Montreal River, its position will be accurately known.
Departing from "Astro Sta No 2" the main line _____ to Survey was carried along form the head
of the Montreal so as to intersect the Manitouish River which in a principal tributary of the of the Chippeway River; and thence up this tributary to the eastern extremity of Trout Lake, where "Astronomical Sta No 3" was fixed. The country was examined laterally to the main line and is shown by the dotted lines on the Map; and it may be said that there is no direction that can be followed from an assumed point as a center which will not lead into a series of small but exceedingly beautiful lakes in this part of the country.
These little lakes so beautifully diversified in size, shape and scenery are but the limpid springs which form the summit reservoirs that nature seems to have furnished with admirable foresight, for a never failing supply to the Chippewa, the Wiskonsin, the Menomonee, the Ontonagon and several smaller streams such as the Montreal, the Carp, Iron, etc.
The valleys and ravines through which the little streams from these lakes meander are rich and often present bottoms of considerable width becoming a luxuriant growth of native grass. The high lands are dry and not very much broken - and are generally covered with pine, white and yellow - and occasionally oak - These high lands are in the process, owing to the destructive ravages of fire, of fast approaching to the prairies such as observed in the Southern and Western portions of Wiskonsin and leave little doubt in the mind of a close observe the cause of these prairies.
From Trout Lake, Astronomical Station No 3 - the line of the Survey was carried with a view to intersect the Wiskonsin River, as will be seen by the Map; thence along in the vicinity
of the river to the original point of starting on South Island in Lac Vieux Desert.
The length of the Surveyed line from the head of the Montreal (Ast Sta No 2) to eastern extremity of Trout lake (Ast Sta No 3) is 43 miles 3188 feet. The length of the offsets line to the lake heading Pine River is 6 miles 1161 feet.
The length of the line from Trout Lake to Lac Vieux Desert (Astronomical Sta No 4) ins 35 miles 2987 feet.
The length of the line from Lax Vieuix Desert to Lac Brulé which was surveyed last year is 15 miles 143 feet.
The whole length of the line from the Head of the Montreal to the head of the Brulé becomes 100 miles 2199 ft.
Map No 1 is the reduced map of this total line upon a scale of 3/4 of an inch to the mile - from the original maps which were drawn on a much larger scale immediately upon the field notes of the surveys.
A straight line from the middle of Lae Vieux Desert, to the nearest branch (the Brulé) of the Menomonee, would make an angle with the straight line from the middle of that lake to the head of the Montreal: and it must be acknowledged that a line with such an elbow would make an awkward boundary between two states.
As there is no natural boundary to be had between the head waters of these two rivers - the Menomonee and the Montreal, it would seem that a straight line from the head waters of one to those of the other would be preferable to an indirect line as Congress may see fit to designate will have to
be run and marked out on the ground for at least sixty miles if the direct line be adopted - but greater than 60 miles if the angular route be insisted on, I say insisted on for the present law makes the middle of "Lac Vieux Desert" a point in the Boundary.
A direct line from the head of the Brulé (Lac Brulé) to the head proper of the Montreal (Ast Sta No 2) will have an approximate bearing of N16°W: and its total length will be in the neighborhood of 60 miles. The running and marking of such a line oblique to the meridian might be easily accomplished by an application of the principles of practical astronomy which are so well known as to need no description here.
The necessity of defining this portion of the boundary between the State of Michigan and the Territory of Wiskonsin, so as to close the gap of 60 Miles and the expediency of making it out on the ground are questions sufficiently answered by reverting to the consequences heretofore owing from neglecting until too late a period to establish boundaries between the adjoining states.
Embarrassments greater or less will most unquestionably be thrown in the way of running and marking the line now under consideration by the Indians who are scattered through this portion of the country: and the longer the work is deferred the more will the spirit of opposition increase - a spirit which has very clearly manifested itself in a secret combination of chiefs last winter to thwart the operations of the past summer.
Map No represents the survey as extended down the Ontonagon River to Lake Superior. The whole length of the line as run from Lac Vieux Desert to Lake Superior is 77 miles 1076 feet. In the west branch of this river is the celebrated copper rock of many tons in weight. The rock is embedded in the river and without close observation would not be readily distinguished. The idea of boating this rock bodily down the river into Lake Superior is preposterous.
Map No 3 Represents the Wiskonsin River as well as the west branch of the Wolf in a much more accurate shape than has before been presented. The upper part of the Wiskonsin came within the field of operations and therefore it was carefully explored and connected with the Survey and the line was so run as to give a sufficiently accurate delineation of this stream from Lac Vieux Desert several miles down southward. Lac Vieux Desert is the principal head of the Wiskonsin and the stream is navigable for canoes all the way up into the Lake.
II. Survey of the Montreal River of Lake Superior. This river was surveyed from its mouth to its highest source (see map No 4). From which it will be perceived that the streams feeding this river almost all come from the west; indeed there are none entering from the east that can be considered more than small spring brooks or drains from swamps, none of these are so broad that they cannot be stepped across without wetting a foot. The tributary from the west
generally head in small lakes, and on reaching the Montreal are deflected toward the north by the dividing ridges separating the Montreal from the head waters of the other rivers running into Lake Superior such as the Carp, the Iron, and the Ontonagon.
The head proper of the Montreal is to be regarded as before stated at the junction of the Balsam and the Pine. At this point in times of very high water a canoe may be put in and run safely to the mouth by making several portages. The character of the Montreal as to importance is sufficiently well described in my report of last year. It is but a secondary stream to say the best. It presents however a great variety of beautiful scenery and the extreme wildness of its feature possess peculiar charms for the lovers of the picturesque. This river however will serve as a good natural boundary from its entrance into Lake Superior to its head. The copper mines which exist for many miles along the south coast of Lake Superior extend quite to the Montreal and there is no doubt of their extending farther west that the valley or ravine of that river.
The distance in a direct line from Ast Sta No 1 to Ast Sta No2 is 18 miles 963 feet and the length of the Survey along the river between the same two points is 34 miles 2687 feet.
III. Survey of the Menomonee River. Map No 3 Represents the Brulé and the Menomonee Rivers which have also been surveyed agreeably to the instructions from the Bureau: The Brulé is the principal
tributary of the Menomonee and is that branch which was contemplated in the law as coming nearest Lae Vieux Desert. The whole length as made by the Survey from Lac Brulé to its junction with the Menomonee is 54 18/100 miles. The Brulé contains fifty nine islands of various sizes from a mere patch to two or three acres in area.
The length of the portion of the Menomonee from said junction of the Brulé (Peshecumme Falls) down to a point near the White Rapids is 62 miles; From the White Rapids to the mouth or entrance into Green Bay it is about 60 miles by way of the stream. The Map of this lower portion of the river has been made from the public land surveys - the appropriation for this boundary last year not being sufficient to include the survey of the lower part of the Menomonee in the past summer's operations: The land surveys give points on the river one mile asunder in due North and East lines along the west bank of the stream.
The character of these two rivers the Menomonee & Brulé were described with so much minuteness in my last years report that nothing can be added here without being a mere repetition.
The Brulé and Menomonee constitute a very good natural Boundary - the precaution however should be taken of dividing the numerous islands so that some may fall within one and the remainder fall with the other state: The number of islands in the Menomonee amounts to 131, eighteen of the principal containing
2304 acres; some of these are over one mile in length and of from 1/8 to 1/4 mile in breadth and are covered with an excellent growth of pine: Innumerable channels occur among the groups of Islets and the best way to dispose of the islands would be to declare by legislative enactment that all islands down to a certain point - to be specified - shall belong to Michigan and all below that point to Wiskonsin: A case of litigation has already commenced I am informed in reference to one of these islands; and the court has been at a loss to decide, from not knowing to whose jurisdiction it belongs.
The aggregate of all the surveyed lines will exhibit a total of 328 Miles 1679 feet which have been run during the past summer in relation to this boundary: To which must be added the very careful reconnaissance by means of bearings and times of nearly 240 miles of the upper Wiskonsin and the west branch of the Wolf rivers - this flying survey was made in canoes in the course of our return from the field of operation without any additional expense to the U.S, and this reconnaissance has developed a complete knowledge of the country in the valley of the upper Wiskonsin and in that of the west branch of the Wolf, so called, of which very little has been hitherto known by the white man.
IV: Lastly. The five maps which until now have been separately considered, all combined by a proper connection of the lines of the Survey from a General Map (No 6) so as to exhibit on a scale
of 20 miles to 1 inch, the whole route oif the Boundary all the way through from Green Bay of Lake Michigan to Lake Superior: also all the portions of Michigan and Wiskonsin which can possibly be supposed have any bearing upon the question of this boundary.
This General Map has been compiled with care, and it is presumed to have all the accuracy that can be desired for the innumerate objects in view. The latitudes and longitudes of the important points of the Survey were approximately determined by the sextant and chronometer with all the care that the very limited amount of the appropriation would authorize: and although they must be regarded as only tolerably good, still these latitudes and longitudes were of very essential benefit and practical line fit and practical utility in conducting this the operations of the Survey - indeed had it not been for this unerring guide of the Stars and Sun and Moon through the agency of the sextant and chronometer there would have been much groping in the dark and I verily believe that we should have found it impossible to connect our lines so as to make the Survey "return to itself" without consuming another season.
It only remains necessary to make the Survey of the Channels of Green Bay and of the lower 60 miles of the Menomonee River - then and not until these shall have been done will the Survey be completed.
Table of approximate heights, determined by the Barometer and Thermometer, above the general level of Lake Michigan at Racine. W.T. on west shore of Lake Michigan.
Place Heights above L. Mich~
Surface of water near Racine
Surface of water Lake Superior at mouth Montreal
+ 18.4 feet
Head of Montreal A.S. No 2
Eastern extremity Trout Lake Ast No 3
Lake Vieuz Desert Ast Sta No 4
so as to leave nothing more to be desired. Those together with the running and marking of the line between the head waters of the Menomonee and of the Montreal, may be accomplished in another season by means of an appropriation of $7,000 - provided the appropriation be made early and no obstacle is experienced from the Indians.
Table of Approximate Latitudes and Longitudes used in constructing the General Map (No 6) Place Latitude North Long. West of Greenwich By whom determined
South bend of L. Michigan 41° 37' 7.9" 87° 9' 06" A. Talcoth
Point on Mississippi 41° 38' 10.5" 90° 13' 45" Do
La Pointe, Lake Superior 46° 47' 10" 90° 50 36" W Nicollet
Mo. of Montreal River 46° 33' 05" 90° 44' 30" T.J. Cram
Head of Montreal River 46° 18' 38" 90° 24' 38" Do
Trout Lake 46° 04' 02" 89° 54' 07" Do
Lac Vieuz Desert 46° 7' 31" 89° 20' 13" Do
Racine W.T. W. Shore of Mich 42° 49' 33" 87° 40' 22" Do
Mouth of St. Peter's 44° 53' 05" 93° 6' 15" W Nicollet
Falls of St Anthony 44° 58' 40" 93° 11' 30" Do
Fond du Lac L Superior 46° 39' 50" 92° 11' 02" Do
Mouth Menomonee R 45° 17' 16.4" 87° 27' 21" T.J. Cram
Lac Brulé 46° 00' 46" 89° 10' 32" Do
The portion of the General map which represents Lake Superior is taken from the Map of that Lake published by the Society for the diffusion of Useful Knowledge which was constructed
from minute Surveys by the British Government and is as perfect a map as need be made - our coast of the lake is delineated with great accuracy. The indentations, projections and mouths of the river and islands are laid down with such minuteness as to prove that great pains were taken by the officer charged with this survey.
The general Map which I have projected (No 6) is made by taking into account the oblateness of the Earth. The details of its construction are fully given in the following appendix to which attention is respectfully selected.