Wisconsin: A Guide to the Badger State

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Recreation

OVER the whole northern half of Wisconsin lies a forest wilderness, smelling of pine pitch and brush fires, where rivers thunder across trap-rock ledges or flow quietly on clean sand beds. The land is pitted with swamps, hidden ponds, and uncounted lakes, and wildlife abounds in both the uplands and the lowlands. A third of the northern boundary juts out into Lake Superior, in the disconnected series of the Apostle Islands. Southeastern Wisconsin, in contrast, is now a farmland, cleared and plow-broken, between mazes of lakes and a labyrinth of drumlin chains. Here corn and bluegrass wave and the countryside is patched with mild wooded ridges, groves, reedy creeks.

Bordering the entire eastern length of the State are the cold green waters of Lake Michigan, split to the north by the slim thumb of the Door County Peninsula. In the southwest sprawls the coulee country, steep and irregular, veined by streams, rivulets, and rivers -- tributaries of the Mississippi. Apple orchards smother the ridges with pink and white blossoms, and the highways rise and circle high above slopes of sugar bush and abandoned ginseng beds. The Mississippi moves slowly here, in a broad 250-mile path that divides Wisconsin from Minnesota and Iowa.

Recently Wisconsin has come to realize the possibilities of this natural scene as an important source of income. Already recreation brings in a revenue of about 250 million dollars annually and ranks high as a State industry. Its program is of two types, that undertaken by local, Federal, and State agencies, and that undertaken by individual promoters, real estate men, and chambers of commerce. The first type is recent in origin. Before 1936 individual steps towards a paying program of recreation were timid, balked on every hand by limited cash. Money was not available for extensive advertising, and such bulletins and pamphlets as were published by independent proprietors reached only scattered groups within the State. But since 1936, when the conservation commission established a recreational publicity department, the situation has changed rapidly. Concentrating on adding to the State income, and incidentally to private income, the publicity department began a scientific advertising campaign. Neighboring States, particularly in the corn belt, have become more aware of a countryside only a day's drive away that contrasts sharply with their own prairie-

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