Clark County Press, Neillsville, Wisconsin
April 22, 2009, Page 24
Contributed by "The Clark Co. Press"
Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.
Index of "Oldies" Articles
Compiled by Dee Zimmerman
Clark County News
Clark County is looking to the future in Forestry Land.
High on a hill overlooking one of the most desolate countryside in the county stands an old, weather beaten house. Its windows long since have been broken out. Floors are ripped up as here and there a small splotch of plaster still clings to the inner wall.
A few years ago a family lived there, eking a frugal existence from the soil and from their few milk cows. Now they are gone.
(The abandoned house on the farm was referred to as having been that of the Hogenson family, the original owners. D.Z.)
It is a forlorn scene. Yet, it rounds out a view of four distinct eras through which 117,000 acres of Clark County land, on its western and southern reaches, have passed.
Standing within sight of the house, in the Town of North Foster, one can see each of four eras as though they were on an illustrated map: a clump of high pine trees shoved into the sky at a distance; a seemingly endless stretch of cover brush; the house and fields that once were cleared and perhaps diligently toiled for the meager harvest they would give; now, overgrown with heavy grass and brush; and, running through the cleared land, which was once the front yard of the farm house are strips where the surface soil recently has been plowed. These strips trail off in the distance as small ribbons running to a common origin.
In succession, the observing person will see first, the period just a few years back when this land was covered by a majestic evergreen forest; Witness the small clump of evergreens still standing. Then came the lumberman’s axe and the years of forest fires which all but leveled the land. There was a period of farming in which the land was coaxed to produce corn or grain, soil that was never meant to produce such crops.
It was during this period that the house was built. At first it was a rough-hewn log cabin. Later siding was nailed to the outside and an attempt was made to convert the house into a “home” by plastering the log walls inside.
But the land just couldn’t produce the kind of crops a farmer must grow to succeed. So the farm passed from hand to hand, being kicked about as one after another tried his luck, and lost. During this time the town and the county lost much money in tax delinquencies on this piece of land in the county.
Then came the most recent era, pointed to by the ribbon-like furrows: the era of the land’s return to its original forest crop; for these furrows are a sign of forest plantations now being carried on in this desolate land by Clark County’s Forestry Department.
This is an important era; for it means that today Clark County is looking forward toward the future and is preparing to make the land productive once again.
Those who have lived through the last few years with the 117,000 acres of county forest crop land declare that before many years, 25 at least, these forest lands will be made to carry the county’s entire relief burden. When one realizes that the relief appropriation voted last fall by the Clark County Board of Supervisors was in the neighborhood of $49,000, one gets a conception of the staggering production these lands will have to attain.
At a cost of nearly a half million dollars in tax delinquencies, rather than actual cold cash outlay, the county has acquired title to the 117,000 acres of land on western and southern reaches of the border. Annually Clark County is spending from $11,000 to $12,000 in an effort to bring back these “bad lands” to the productive and wealth-laden timberland they once were. The money thus being spent is earmarked for this purpose and comes from the state under the forest crop law.
Within 20 or 25 years the forest will care for the county’s relief burden, providing deadly forest fires can be kept out of the land.
As a matter of fact, a start already has been made toward making the forest cropland of the county produce for the county’s needy. Last winter a crew of WPA men was employed in cutting diseased and down trees in the area into cordwood. More than 1,000 cords were cut and distributed among relief families of the county. Figuring the wood at a dollar a cord, County Forester Allen C. Covell estimates that the county in this manner made a saving of $1,000 through the forestlands.
In addition, the county forests turned out a crop of Christmas trees last year, its first crop of this sort, for about $100, a small part of which was turned over to the state as its share under the forest crop law.
Chicken feed? Yes, but it is an indication of what the land can and will produce, declared Mr. Covell.
The prediction that the county forest before many years will be in a position to carry the relief load of the county is quickly supported by County Treasurer James Fradette, who has played a major role in the setting up of the county forest area.
He points to the Menomonie Indian reservation’s forest. There, through the practice of sane, scientific forestry, 500 Indian families derive their living.
The federal government long ago saw that Wisconsin’s great timberlands such as those, which once stood in the towns of Mead, the Fosters, Hewett, Dewhurst, Mentor, Washburn, Butler and Sherwood, soon would be dissipated. They set up the permanent forest on the Menomonie Indian reservation. For the rest of time, now with the scientific handling the forest has received in the past, the Indians of the reservation will be provided for, declared Mr. Fradette.
With proper promotion over the years, Clark County will become one of the foremost vacation spots of the central states. This will bring thousands of dollars annually to residents, businessmen and professional men of the area.
Already the forest croplands abound in game birds and animals. “That is among the best prairie chicken and deer lands in the entire nation,” commented Mr. Covell. “There is no need of a Clark County resident leaving his own county for the best hunting to be had anywhere. Sportsmen living in other areas will learn about the hunting facilities afforded by the county forest and will come here.
It was with a view into what might happen in the future should the forestland of the county not be closely held that County Treasurer Fradette recently explained to the county board of supervisors that “it will be a spot where every person in the county can go for his recreation for the rest of time.”
In line with the return of the county forest crop lands to timberlands and recreation areas, Clark County this year launched the most ambitious program of tree planting it has attempted since the formation of the county forest crop land in 1933.
More than a half-million trees, two year old seedlings, are being planted in the Hay Creek and Sherwood units of the county forest. Another plantation of a half-million is planned for September. Most of the plantations are being made in jack pine, a fast growing tree, which not many years from now will be in position to yield a pulp wood crop.
Too, the plantations, under the direction of County Forester Covell, are being made with an eye to the important development of recreation spots. The majority of this spring’s plantations are being made in the Hay Creek unit, on the lands bordering the 130-acre lake formed by the $20,000 Hay Creek Dam. The dam was completed last year and plans for a formal dedication of the land, which are now being made.
The trees being planted this year come from the Central State Nurseries, south of Wisconsin Rapids, and are being given to the county without charge. In the past a small charge has been made for the trees by the state-owned nursery; but this year the charge was not necessary.
This year the nursery will send out in the neighborhood of 16 million trees to various forestry units in the state. Clark County will receive slightly more than a million of these.
The trees, brought to Clark County by truck, first are placed in a “heeling-in” bed, where the roots are kept moist until they can be planted. In the case of the plantation now under way in the Hay Creek unit, the heeling-in bed is located in a low spot near a creek, which is always damp.
A crew of planters, some hired by the county forestry department, others WPA workers, takes the trees from the heeling-in beds by the bucketful and plant them in furrows. The purpose of the furrows is to remove the surface soil so that the roots of the young trees will be planted in the mineral soil, where they will have a better chance to survive. During the average year, Mr. Covell estimates, a 90 per cent stand of the year’s plantation will be affected. This means that, with normal rainfall this year about 450,000 out of 500,000 planted will survive. Speaking of the county forest project as a whole, Mr. Covell commented: “It is not a get rich quick proposition. Rather, it is a longtime program, which must be worked out with care. Yet, it will yield more in revenue and sport to Clark County in the years to come than any other program that could be carried out.”
Here and there along the country roads in southeastern Clark County these days you will see white smoke raising quickly toward the sky in the maple woodlots that dot the countryside.
For it is sap time again; and that smoke you see actually is the steam rising from the big evaporating pans in which probably 100 or more Clark County farmers of that area are boiling down maple sap into sweet, delicious amber syrup.
Time was when Clark County was among the leading maple syrup producing counties of the state; and Wisconsin was second only to Vermont in production of that sweet stuff so necessary to a good pancake dinner. And, while it may have lost its high ranking, there remains a considerable amount of sugar bush in the county.
Frances Steiner, Granton High School’s enthusiastic and energetic high school agricultural instructor, estimates that from 150,000 to 200,000 maple trees have been tapped this year in southeastern Clark County by 100 or more farmers. There is another maple syrup area, too, in the county: in the northwestern section, he says.
With most farmers who gather and boil sap to syrup these days, the syrup business is just a sideline. They produce but enough for their own tables and perhaps a little for sale. Their woodlots average probably 150 tees.
But not all are sideline operations. Although Clark County no longer has the big sugar bush of 5,000 to 10,000 trees that it boasted of 20-25 years ago, it still has some surprisingly sizable operations.
The Coffee Klatsch is an institution of Neillsville. It is a particular pride and joy of May’s Sweet Shop, having descended to the Mays from the days of Otto Lewerenz and the Minettes.
The Klatsch serves two purposes: to absorb coffee and to provide a breather for the tired businessman. The two needs always arise twice a day and sometimes once in the evening, all with no interference with the regular meals.
Attendance at the Klatsch takes place as the men drift in, such as when we stopped in one day. Those in attendance were Jim Hauge, Lowell Schoengarth, Henry Thomsen, Tom Flynn and Ed Petschow. Their servers were May McCarty and Mrs. Lester May.
For this special occasion the customers of the Klatsch are given seats in the party room, which is at the south front of the Sweet Shop. This room is bright and attractive and is available to parties and private dinners, with seats for 16 to 24.
But the Mays center upon their regular customers, the persons who eat out regularly or occasionally and who seek nourishment with neatness. They provide varying menus for regular meals, and are ready to serve steaks and chops upon the customers bidding. They specialize on potato pancakes Thursday evening and chicken, turkey or duck for Sunday dinner and supper.
The Loyal fire department, with the Loyal-Beaver fire truck answered a 10:40 a.m. call Sunday to a fire on the farm of the Elpert brothers, Joe, Wallace and Frank.
The farm is located in the Pelsdorf neighborhood, about four miles southeast of Loyal. The two-story house was a blaze before the firemen arrived. The house was gutted, but the walls and roof remained standing. Water was obtained at the Elpert farm and Schlinsog cheese factory.
It is thought the fire was caused by an overheated stove or defective chimney. Some furniture was saved.
A government purchase of potatoes of the 1953 crop has been announced, with the price set at $1.50 per hundred at the point of shipment. Not more than three growers may go in together to fill to a railroad car, the purchase being limited to car lots.
Several deals of substantial size head the realty budget as spring takes over. Top in value are the Lenczuk and Skwierczynski deals.
Leon Skwierczynski and his wife, Louise, as joint tenants, have brought from Louis Bartosewicz, 240-acres in Section 3, 13 and 14 in the Town of Withee.
Dmytre Lenczuk and his wife Lanna, as joint tenants, have bought from Leona ‘Toltzman 120 acres in Sections 28 and 29, Town of Unity.
Giles B. Susa and his wife Marie, as joint tenants, have bought from members of the Huntizicker family 160 acres in Section 10, Town of Eaton.
Edwin Schmidt and his wife Kathryn, as joint tenants, have bought from Earl V. Butler and his wife Kathryn Lot 7 and the west half of Lot 6, Block 5, of Abbotsford.
Bernard H. Kuhn and his wife Ruby V. have bought from Norman V. Karstens and his wife Grace N. eighty acres in section 9, Town of Washburn.
An early 1900s photo of John Pietenpohl cooking down sap in an evaporating pan to become maple syrup in his sugar bush shanty, which was located north of Granton. (Photo courtesy of Joanne (Pietenpohl) Tibbett – DZ)
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