Site 13 Lawrence SNA/Tunnel Channel

This location may be a little hard to find, but is well worth it.  It is on the south side of Dyke Court and has good parking. 

Lawrence Creek Fish and Wildlife Area is a beautiful place to spend some time and offers one of the best views of a tunnel channel made by the glacier well over 10,000 years ago.    Muir put forth his theory of how a glacier had formed Yosemite which was in conflict with the leading theory of the day that said a great river formed the valley.   Louis Agassiz, the preeminent geologist of the time, however, believed Muir's theory to have merit and when Muir discovered a living glacier my Merced Creek in California, his theory gained acceptance. 

John Muir wrote:

To prepare the ground, it was rolled and sifted in seas with infinite loving deliberation and forethought, lifted into the light, submerged and warmed over and over again, pressed and crumpled into folds and ridges, mountains and hills, subsoiled with heaving volcanic fires, ploughed and ground and sculptured into scenery and soil with glaciers and rivers,....every feature growing and changing from beauty to beauty, higher and higher.  

Muir's most famous writing on glaciers is his essay on the glaciers of Yosemite published in 1871.

Follow the path from this parking area and you will come to a point that overlooks a ravine with Lawrence Creek winding its way through it.  You will be standing on one top edge of a channel made by a river of water that ran underneath the glacier.  It's called a tunnel channel.  The Ice Age Trail says this about tunnel channels:

Tunnel Channel: Created by a fast moving river under a glacier that carves a valley. After the glacier has melted, the valley often contains a series of lakes.

When you cross this bridge over Lawrence Creek, you are within the tunnel channel made by the glacier over 12,000 years ago. 

This photo was taken in the Lawrence Creek wildlife area.  Do you know what made those holes?   It was a Pileated Woodpecker.  Listen for the drumming, rat-a-tat-tatting of the big woodpecker which was certainly the inspiration for Woody the Woodpecker.  You'll be able to see Pileated Woodpeckers in many forested areas in Marquette County.  From the DNR:

Have you ever seen oval, 3-4 inch holes bored into the trunks of standing dead trees? If you have, you've seen the carpentry work of a pileated woodpecker. The pileated is Wisconsin's largest woodpecker, about the size of a crow. Its winter food is typically carpenter ants in trees that have heart rot, but it will sometimes also take aim at a suet bag. This bird is evasive and hard to spot, but once you see one, you'll never forget what it looks like. Try to catch a glimpse of this bird in flight--its underwings are striking white, edged in black.

In the winter they will eat suet from a feeder.

The late WWII Veteran Ken Peters who lived near Montello watched a Pileated Woodpecker rip apart this tree in his yard two years ago.

Open the Watch for Birds Link to see more birds you might see at this and other sites.

After you walk the path down to the tunnel channel and explore the beautiful Lawrence Creek Fisheries Area, you can drive from the parking lot to the small settlement of Lawrence. Use the small map located above in this information to travel to County Road E and the junction of A.  Lawrence Creek was dammed for a mill in the early days of settlement, just like many of the rivers and streams in Marquette County.  Lawrence Lake is really a mill pond that was first formed when water power was needed.  Did you know that there was even a mill on the small outlet stream of Ennis Lake by John Muir Park?  Water power was essential to settlers for sawing lumber and grinding wheat into flour but also for other industry.  Lawrence had a woolen mill built in 1868.  The article below tells about the mill.  The article calls the river the Montello River because it is, indeed part of the river that flows into Montello by the granite quarry, but later this river acquired other names in some sections like the Westfield River near Westfield, the Crooked River between Westfield and Montello and Lawrence Creek here. 

When you get into the crossroads that forms the former Lawrence community, you'll notice a large Dahlke Brewery building.  That was originally the site of the flour mill.  The brewery building was purchased with plans to reopen it, but it never was completed.  It still stands as a memorial to the Dahlke Brewery that operated from 1934 to 1943.  Gustav Dahlke built the brewery right after prohibition ended.  The cold artesian well water was used to produce 30,000 barrels of beer annually under several labels.  Dahlke hired a brewmaster who had apprenticed in Germany and who insisted on the highest quality ingredients.    He imported his hops from Germany.  After Brewmaster Kuenzel died, the next brewmaster failed to maintain the quality and WWII also brought labor shortages.  The company bottled soft drinks at the brewery building until 1966.