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"Great Lakes Small Streams" comes to Spring Valley

The Wisconsin Historical Society's traveling display "Great Lakes Small Streams: How Water Shapes Wisconsin" explores our state's long relationship with water and the impact we have had on our vast waterways. Submitted photo1 / 2
Great Lakes, Small Streams is a traveling exhibit of the Wisconsin Historical Society. Submitted photo2 / 2

We drink it, fish in it, clean with it, swim in it and travel across it. Water has always been critical for our survival. The Spring Valley Community Center will put water in Wisconsin on display in a new museum exhibit. The historical exhibit will run through Sunday, Sept. 2, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Admission is free with donations encouraged.

The Wisconsin Historical Society's traveling display "Great Lakes Small Streams: How Water Shapes Wisconsin" explores our state's long relationship with water and the impact we have had on our vast waterways. The exhibit is made possible with the help of the Spring Valley Lions Club. All money raised will go directly to the Spring Valley Community Center.

The 16 panels of "Great Lakes Small Streams" tell the story of Wisconsin's relationship with water in simple language, with reproductions of 70 historic and contemporary photographs and documents. The Great Lakes region is home to one of the largest freshwater resources on the planet. That water shaped the landscape, history and communities of our state.

The exhibit also features local connections to waterways in Pierce, Dunn and St. Croix counties. Learn about Spring Valley, the town that wouldn't give up despite getting devastated by more than a dozen floods. Photos by Doug and Don Blegen illustrate the flood damage, the building of the Eau Galle Dam, and the creation of the Eau Galle Recreation Area.

Many of our local waterways provided for economic opportunities to Pierce County residents. The currents of the St. Croix and Mississippi rivers allowed for local businesses like clamming and fishing. View photos and a model clam boat to learn how fresh water clams were harvested and then made into buttons and pearls. The display is on loan from the Great River Road Visitor and Learning Center.

The Dunn County Historical Society has contributed to the exhibit with a Tainter Dam display. Learn how the Tainter Gate in Cedar Falls operates through a working model of the dam which sends water rushing from one side to the other.

Over the years, Pierce County has been home to more than 57 saw mills, grist mills, and carding mills shown on a map from the Pierce County Historical Association. The display also features a large model of the Huot grist mill formally located on the Trimbelle River. The logging industry in places like Rock Elm, Beldenville, Elmwood, Spring Valley, Martell, El Paso and Durand kept the numerous sawmills working. Photos from the Spring Valley Library and PCHA are supported with facts and information.

The sinking of the steamboat Sea Wing in Lake Pepin remains one of the most devastating inland waterway boating disasters in our nation's history. Read the story of how 98 people tragically died when the boat capsized on the evening of July 13, 1890. See a replica of the Sea Wing boat, which was based in Diamond Bluff.

Lake Pepin was also the birth of water skiing. Matt Huepfel, of Spring Valley Drug, will have a pair of wooden water skis on display which were manufactured by Herman Gilbertson in Spring Valley.

Also contributing to the event is the Army Corps of Engineers who are responsible for the building and management of the Eau Galle Dam and Reservoir. They will have a water safety area with giveaways for kids including a coloring book. Parents can let their kids sit down and color in the water safety area as they grab a cup of Creekside Coffee and enjoy the exhibits.