Germania Walking Tour Site 3

Location: W1974 Eagle Road -- North End Of The Access Road Located At W1974 Eagle Road (Just West Of The “Methodist” Church)

Shortly after settling in Germania, Benjamin Hall began building a dam on the Mecan river, which created a shallow lake -- the Germania Lake or Mill Pond -- that became a popular boating spot for community and area residents. The dam was removed around 1902. Thereafter, the former Mill Pond area was used to grow marsh hay for livestock until the 1950’s, at which time the WI DNR purchased the land to create the 2,400-acre Germania Marsh State Wildlife Area by re-installing a dam in approximately the same location as the original Colony dam.

Germania Wildlife Area taken from the book Abundant Harvest: the hunting and fishing legacy of Marquette County

                From the DNR website: “The Germania Dam Company built the first dam and mill in Germania in 1867 which created a large shallow flowage of several thousands acres called Germania Lake. In 1902 the dam was removed to permit the farmers to harvest wild rice which was soon abandoned due to poor economic return. In 1948, a committee of game managers inspected the area as a potential restoration project and the favorable report and the engineering surveys which followed indicated that the area had a good water supply and was suitable for flooding. The preliminary project and first Land Acquisition on the Germania Marsh was approved by the Wisconsin Conservation Commission on September 9th 1955 as a wetland restoration project.

               The current Germania Marsh Dam (Lower Dike) was completed on October 13th 1959 and was modified and repaired in 1999 after vandals had dumped sand into the gear mechanism that moves the water control gate.”

A 1974 article by Elaine Reetz about the August Warnke family history tells more about the Germania Mill Pond. It says, “When August had completed his miller apprentice ship (in Princeton) he and a brother, Michael, purchased in March of 1886 the Germania Co. flouring mill at Germania. Wilhelminie and Martin Matz bought a partnership in the mill, known as Warnke Brothers and Matz Mill, and did a thriving business, hauling rye and wheat flour to Princeton where it was shipped by railroad.

 ‘It was a big mill, with five water wheels, but it burned to the ground from unknown origin after they had run it for 13 years,’ Otto Warnke said. ‘I remember that I was about 5 years old, and watched the fierce fire burning from our home across the street. Dad and Uncle Michael became farmers for the first time. They drained their property, the Germania Millpond and went into the dairy business. They purchased bag after bag of seed from Princeton usually blue joint grass seed for the low ground, and pastured the former millpond. Today this millpond acreage is Included in the Germania Marsh Wildlife Area.” 

The Germania Wildlife Area is listed as a Wetland Gem in Wisconsin.  It is 2400 acres of open marsh/wet meadow, swamp hardwoods/tamarack swamp, upland prairie/oak savannah and shrub carr.