from the “50′s”
This intriguing sign was posted on Highway 18/151, which is now County YZ. It beckoned many curious travelers to leave the busy road and find a little oasis, a hidden gem, Canyon Park.
In the last week or two the Wisconsin State Journal ran an article about the world class Herbarium at the UW. The article begins by describing it as little known but world class. It’s important to make people aware of this great resource.
The botany of Canyon Park is definitely part of the attraction. There are little ecosystems throughout and the plant life varies noticeably. There are the sandy edges of the cliffs. The swampy areas in the canyon that can change overnight. The steep sides of the canyon vary from loose soil to bare rock. Some of the cliff sides have water on them and reflect brightly in the sunlight. The springs run constantly and the pond never stops. Each habitat is different and supports a different plant set.
In 1995 we were pleased to receive a note and a long list from Mr. Woerpel. He commented that he “remembered seeing lady slippers just north of the big bluff on the east side of the canyon. But it has been many years though, maybe I just wasn’t there at the appropriate time”.
The list itself is a copy of the typed field notes (with the common names penciled in) from an original survey of plant life at Canyon Park conducted UW-Madison. In 1958, researchers from the UW, W. Adamson, E. Temby and J. Gates, undertook a study of the flora at canyon park. There also some records from 1968 and data was gathered in 2000 by A. Hipp.
It’s nice to have the list and it’s really cool to be able to look at it online. You can go to the WBIS, the Wisconsin Botanical Information System and find information pertaining to plant life all over the state. If you follow these few steps you can see what type of plants exist(ed) at Canyon Park.
Go to Wisconsin Herbaria Plant Specimen Database (link provided below) advance search and fill out the form like this:
Click on search!
This should bring up the database for Canyon Park and a few more locations. not real easy to navigate, but if you’re into Herbaria, totally worthwhile.
The cabin is located just to the west of Canyon Park Road, not at the end of the road but an end of the road (some old maps show the canyon road extending to the north, probably merging with Evans Quarry Road). Originally the cabin was used just in “season” and was designed as kind of a park ranger station.
When you enter the original cabin area one of the things you’ll notice is the inscription over the fireplace, it states By Nature All Men Are Brothers. The rest of the fireplace is constructed of stone that is native to the park. These stones have been arranged symmetrically and some hold fossils. The oak floor in the same room was milled from trees on the property. The logs in the original cabin area where manufactured and delivered from Door County, Wisconsin. The logs have been milled with a concave edge and tongue and groove, so they are tight and sit properly.
But why is the cabin here? Just take a look around. There are giant white pines, spectacular cliffs, 15 or twenty springs, a pond (dam; circa 1933) and a little cave. All of these features combine to make the park a destination in itself. You can take a walk on the Loop and down through the canyon and back in about an hour. We recommend it!