Boscobel and its neighboring communities have a tremendously rich and long history, archaeological treasures, beautiful historic buildings, and a number of museums.
Archaeologists have found evidence of people in the Lower Wisconsin region as early as 10,000 years ago. By 1000 BC, the rich natural resources of the floodplains, terraces, and upland bluffs had attracted people who settled along the riverway.
The majority of ancient Native American effigy mounds, along with prehistoric cave art, some a thousand years old, is concentrated on the Wisconsin and Mississippi River bluffs of the Driftless Area. As a result, the Effigy Mounds National Monument was created nearby.
Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet were the first Europeans to visit the area nearly 350 years ago when they paddled down the Wisconsin River to reach the Mississippi River. Here’s how Father Marquette himself described the area in his journal:
“The river on which we embarked is called Meskousing [Wisconsin]. It is very wide; it has a sandy bottom… It is full of islands covered with vines. On the banks one sees fertile land, diversified with woods, prairies, and hills. There are oak, walnut, and basswood trees; and another kind, whose branches are armed with long thorns. We saw there neither feathered game nor fish, but many deer, and a large number of cattle… After proceeding 40 leagues on this same route, we arrived at the mouth of our river; and, at 42 and a half degrees of latitude, we safely entered Missisipi [sic] on the 17th of June , with a joy that I cannot express.”
“Here we are, then, on this so renowned a river, all of whose peculiar features I have endeavored to note carefully. This Missisipi River takes its rise in various lakes in the country of the northern nations. It is narrow at the place where Miskous empties; its current, which flows southward, is slow and gentle. To the right is a large chain of very high mountains, and to the left are beautiful lands; in various places, the stream is divided by islands.”
Today, you will find the Lower Wisconsin Riverway to be very similar to the wild and beautiful place described by these early explorers.