Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Lost & Found

Once again, I would like everyone to attend the Wisconsin Book Festival to be held in Madison from November 7-11.  I will be making a presentation on my book, "That Dam History - The Story of The La Farge Dam Project", on Saturday, November 10 at 4 PM in the Rotunda Studio at the Overture Center located on State Street.  The topic of the session is "Loss & Discovery on Wisconsin's Waterways" and I will share the event with Milton Bates, author of "The Bark River Chronicles - Stories From A Wisconsin Watershed".  Please join me on that Saturday afternoon if you are in the area.  I will also have my books for sale that weekend in Madison.  Check the book festival website at wisconsinbookfestival.org for more details.

For the past couple of days I have been working on what I will say for my presentation in Madison.  I will start with a brief history of the dam project and then give one point of discovery and one aspect of loss from the story.

 For the discovery portion I will be talking about the research that was conducted on the lands purchased for the dam project that were going to eventually be under the waters of Lake La Farge.  Starting in 1960 and continuing for almost forty years, various studies were conducted on the archeological significance, the cultural and historic importance, and the unique geology and land formations of this portion of the northern Kickapoo Valley.  Of particular interest to me was the fact that the extensive studies were able to continue because of the delays and controversy associated with the dam project.  Because of this prolonged battle over what would happen with those dam project lands, the  importance of the archeology, cultural history and geology of this part of the Driftless Area has been saved for us to savor and enjoy.

For the loss portion of my talk I will focus on the amount of money that was spent on this project and how much NOT finishing the project cost everyone in the Kickapoo Valley.  One of the biggest losses, almost mind-boggling to me when you look at how much money was spent, was that not one bit of flood-control was ever derived from the project.  As I have said before, an unfinished dam holds back no floodwaters.

In October, my Local History Notebook columns, published in the La Farge Episcope newspaper, have tried to tell the story of the 2000 girls volleyball season at La Farge High School.  That was the fall that the girls put it all together, won the conference championship, and proceeded to win their way to the WIAA state tournament!  I was athletic director at the school that fall, so was very involved in some of the details of that magical season.  It was really fun to remember that time.

I am getting ready to begin writing volume 2 of my history of La Farge.  I have been very busy with several other non-writing projects this year and have not had much time to think about starting that local history project.  In May, Carolyn and I were in Cable to hear Mary Mamminga talk about writing her book, "Return To Wake Robin".  She mentioned that she had "to find her voice" to tell the story and that struck me as a problem with writing volume 2 of the La Farge history.  Six months later, we were in Viroqua to listen to Michael Perry talk about his new book, "Visiting Tom".  (Perry will also be at the book festival talking about his book.)  At the end of his talk, he discussed the process that he uses to get his writing done.  That got me to thinking about the process I need to get back to so I can write this book.  On Thursday, November 1, I will start to put fingers to keyboard and begin that process in my found voice to finish the story of the little Kickapoo River town.  Wish me luck.

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