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What Caused the Great Peshtigo Fire?

About 250 people died in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The famous, or infamous, Chicago Fire remains a sad and well-known chapter in American history. What many people don’t know is that up to 2,400 people died in a much larger but relatively unknown fire in northeast Wisconsin. The Peshtigo Fire was the deadliest fire in United State history. Both of these fires occurred on the tragic evening of October 8th, 1871.

The Wisconsin fire started in a small town called Peshtigo, close to the waters of Green Bay. The fire spread to cover 2,400 square miles or 1.5 million acres of northeast Wisconsin and parts of Upper Michigan. The Peshtigo Fire destroyed 17 towns including the town of Peshtigo where the most casualties occurred. The town of Peshtigo was wiped out in less than an hour. Along with the town, about 800 lives were lost.[read more]

Read More: The Great Chicago Fire

Broadway Mural Pays Homage to Monona's Historic Beauty

Simpson Street editor Taylor Kilgore was driving home from our South Towne office the other day when she noticed something beautiful. Before her eyes, a group of artists, including teenagers, were working on a colorful mural on the side of the Well No. 3 Building on 6500 Raywood Road in Monona.

When it was safe, Taylor pulled over to the side of the road, parked her car, and approached the artists. She spoke to one of the mural’s painters, Alicia Rheal, who told her more about the project. The mural was designed by Rhea Ewing and other contributors include Rheal, Emida Roller, Sonya Sankaran and Amy Zaremba, who are all members of Dane Arts Mural Arts (DAMA), a division of Dane Arts that aims to engage the public and young people through mural art.[read more]

Dane Country Streams Susceptible to Invasive Snails

A tiny creature is making a big splash in Dane County. The New Zealand mud snail was detected for the second time in the area, and officials are becoming concerned about the invasive mollusk. First discovered three years ago in Black Earth Creek, the snail was recently sighted in Badger Mill Creek in Verona.

Although the snails are only one-eighth of an inch long, they reproduce asexually and can create a colony of one million clones in a year. The snails don’t thrive everywhere, however. Researchers suggest that their numbers tend to spike when they are first observed, and then decline for unknown reasons. One possible explanation is that the snail might have a predator—the aquatic flatworm. [read more]

Lower Yahara River Trail Is Open to Public

After 30 years of planning, the Lower Yahara River Trail is now open to the public. The highly anticipated trail connects McDaniel Park in McFarland with Capital City Trail in Madison. It does more than just bridge two places; however, it also ties two communities together.

The $8 million project required many years of planning, funding, and relationship building with nonprofits, landowners, and state institutions. The 2.5-mile trail connects the whole southeastern part of Dane County, linking two major trails. [read more]

The Jingle Dress Dance Preserves Ojibwe Culture

If you've ever been to a powwow, you might have heard the tinkling sound of the Jingle Dress Dane. Historically used for healing, the Jingle Dress is now part of a dance that honors and celebrates Ojibwe culture and tradition.

According to Native American legend, the Jingle Dress was first made to cure an Ojibwe medicine man’s granddaughter from a serious illness. The medicine man asked the spirits to send him a vision of how to heal her. In a dream, the spirits showed him how to make the Jingle dress and how to perform the corresponding Jingle Dress dance. [read more]