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of the Union; on which an industrious farmer can raise from 30 to 50 bushels of wheat, or from 50 to 80 bushels of corn to the acre. North of this, a belt of hard timber extends east and west 150 miles on the latitude of Stevens Point - from 50 to 100 miles in width. The soil of this region is fertile, but the timber is its present wealth. Unlike the prairies, building material for fences is convenient, and no country produces better or more wheat—the staple crop. The indigenous and cultivated grasses flourish admirably, and, combined with numerous streams, afford the best facility for grazing. This peculiarity (abundance of water) pervades the entire State, and presents inducements for cattle-growing not found in the other prairie countries, where running water is found at distances too great for cattle.
The prairies of Wisconsin are not as extensive as those of Illinois, Iowa or Minnesota, but, as they are skirted and belted by timber, are adapted to immediate and profitable occupation. The soil of the prairies is a rich, dark vegetable mould, varying from two to eight feet in depth, capable of producing, in the greatest profusion, anything which will grow in these latitudes, and inexhaustible in its fertility. For centuries, the successive natural crops, untouched by the scythe, have accumulated matter on the surface-soil to such an extent, that a long succession, even of exhausting crops, will not materially impoverish the land. Dr. Owen says :
" The dark mould which prevails over a large proportion of Wisconsin, so rich in genie, has proved itself an excellent and productive soil, especially adapted to the culture of every species of culinary vegetables and small grain, and producing, probably, as good Indian corn as the State of New York, or any other State of the same latitude, “The power of absorption of these lands is generally in
proportion to their amount of genie and the lightness of the soil. In general, the more finely the parts of a soil are divided, the better they absorb water.
“This is an important item to the cultivator. Lands possessing this power in a considerable degree, readily absorb the dew in dry weather; and in wet weather do not suffer the superfluous rain to accumulate on the surface.
"A striking feature in the character of the Wisconsin soils, as an analysis shows, is the entire absence, in most of the specimens, of clay, and the large proportion of silex. This silex, however, does not commonly show itself here in its usual form — that of a quartzose sand. It appears as a fine, almost impalpable, siliceous powder, frequently occurring in concreted lumps that resemble clay; and, indeed, it was often reported to me incorrectly as clay — an error ultimately detected by analysis.
“This almost impalpable powder, the chief constituent and almost sole residuum of the Wisconsin soils, is so highly comminuted that, when examined under the microscope, for the most part its atoms present no crystalline or even granular appearance.
“ This fine siliceous residuum, after being boiled with strong aqua regia, lost but ten per cent., of which but five per cent. was alumina.
“ This absence of any material per centage of clay in the soils under consideration, prevents the rolling lands from washing away; and it imparts to the streams a crystal clearness, which even after heavy rains is hardly disturbed. The appearance of these transparent rivulets, flowing over a soil which, when moistened by rain, is often of an inky blackness, arrests by its singularity, the eye of a stranger.
“Whether the lack of clay in the Wisconsin soils will render them less durable may be doubted. A coarse sandy soil, the open pores of which suffer the rain to percolate,
carrying with it the nutritive genie from the surface, requires an admixture of clay before it can become rich and durable ; but the minute-grained siliceous powder of this district forms a species of soil entirely different from the above - one which, without any such admixture, retains moisture and genie in much perfection.
“I believe it to be peculiarly adapted to the growth of the sugar beet, which flourishes best in a loose, fertile mould, and which has of late become, in some European countries, an important article of commerce. It is estimated that the amount of beet sugar manufactured in France during the year 1840 was 100,000,000 pounds, and in Prussia and Germany 30,000,000 pounds. In the western part of Michigan, in as northern a latitude, and in a climate similar to that of Wisconsin, 240,000 pounds are reported by the papers of that State (how accurately I know not) to have been manufactured the same year." In regard to the soil of the mineral regions, Dr Owens
“It is a common, and usually a correct remark, that mineral regions are barren and unproductive. 'If a stranger,' as Buckland has well expressed it in the opening of his Bridgewater Treatise, 'if a stranger, landing at the extremity of England, were to traverse the whole of Cornwall and the north of Devonshire, and, crossing to St. David's, should make the tour of all North Wales, and passing thence through Cumberland, by the Isle of Man, to the southwestern shore of Scotland, should proceed either by the hilly region of the border counties, or along the Grampians, to the German Ocean, he would conclude, from such a journey of many hundred miles, that Britain was a thinly-peopled, sterile region, whose principal inhabitants were miners and mountaineers.'
“Not so the traveller through the mining districts of Wisconsin. These afford promise of liberal reward, no
less to the husbandman than to the miner; and a chemical examination of the soils gives assurance that the promise will be amply fulfilled.
“I may add, that I know of no country in the world, with similar mineral resources, which can lay claim to a soil as fertile and as well adapted to the essential purposes of agriculture." I
In this work, the writer wishes more particularly to call the attention of settlers to the northern part of Wisconsin. For years, valuable lands in this part of the State were offered for sale at the Government price ($1.25 per acre), but with very rare exceptions, here and there, they remained without purchasers. This neglected region contains some of our most valuable agricultural lands, and now offers greater inducements to settlers than any other part. The new railroads, already commenced from Milwaukee, through our eastern and western borders, to Lake Superior, have received from Government over 2,000,000 acres of these lands to aid in their construction, and while they open the country to agriculturists, will doubtless follow the example of the Illinois Central Railroad, in offering their lands, on easy terms and on long credits, to actual settlers. Let it be remembered, that there are several millions of acres in this part of the State open to pre-emption.
A great mistake prevails in the Northern and Eastern States among those who are preparing to come to Wisconsin. Congress granted a large amount of lands to railroads, and all the Land Offices have been closed, so that no lands can be sold; and, therefore, settlers abroad infer that they cannot get land, except what they purchase at second-hand of those who secured their land before the closing of the Offices. 1st. We wish to inform every one, that the closing of
1 Geological Explorations in Wisconsin.
the Land Offices does not prejudice the rights of peremption in the least.
2d. The Railroad Grant, in its terms, respects all preemptions made, UP TO THE TIME THE ROADS ARE ACTUALLY LOCATED. After the location, pre-empters are excluded from pre-empting odd-numbered sections only, within six miles of either side of the roads as located.
3d. The closing of the Land Offices operates as a benefit to the poor man; for it extends the time within which he is required to prove up and pay for his land.
4th. The closing of the Land Offices was intended to operate in those districts only where large bodies of public lands were subject to private entry. It was done to prevent speculators from taking up all the public lands along the line of the proposed roads, to the exclusion of the actual settler. We repeat, the right of pre-emption is not thereby affected until the roads are actually located.
The Act of Congress says, that the railroads shall have every alternate section of an odd number; that is, Nos. 1, 3, 5, 7, &c., for six miles each side of their tracks, of the land not sold. Therefore, all the sections of an even number are virtually open to actual settlers, because settlers are perfectly safe; and at the land sales no speculator or other person will bid against a settler, and he can get his land at Government prices; but the Government price for all lands within six miles of the railroads will be $2.50 per acre.. If they wish to go farther off than six miles from the proposed railroad lines, then the price of the lands will be $1.25 per acre.
How soon the railroad companies will get through selecting their lands, and the offices again be open, no one can tell-possibly not before the close of the summer. The Government will give at least two months’ public notice of the time of sale. There is not the least doubt but that