The Totogatic River
The Totogatic River is a 70 mile river that flows from Nelson Lake in Bayfield County through Washburn County to the confluence of the two rivers, Totogatic and Nemakagon in Burnett County. The Totogatic River became Wisconsin’s 5th Wild and Scenic River way in 2009. That means that the Totogatic meets certain standards that put them in this group.
The Nancy Project dam on the river in Minong creates the Minong Flowage. The dam was built in the late 1930’s and is now owned by Dahlberg Light & Power. It has four gates. The dam is made of concrete and the gates are made of wood. It is a Hydro-Electric dam and can produce 2,400 volts and 75 amps.
There are many legends & myths about the Totogatic such as the “Spirit-Being” Wanibiju. There used to be a peculiar phenomenon known as “Wanibuju’s Footprint”, which was a perfectly shaped footprint in solid rock before they built a dam there.
The Totogatic River is also a home for many animals including eagles, otters, turtles, prairie skink lizards, and the fearsome hognose snake.
Have you ever wondered about the history of the Colton Flowage, how it got its name, or about any of the species that live in there? There are some fascinating facts and history about the Colton Flowage.
The Colton Flowage got its name after a wealthy man named Kingsley B. Colton. Kingsley and his wife Dorothy moved from Chicago to the general area of Minong. Kingsley was not born wealthy, but did become a rich man. Dorothy’s father started the C.D. Peacock Jewelry Company. C.D. Peacock Jewelry Company sold jewelry to wealthy families and today they still sell to the famous and wealthy. And that’s how Kingsley got all of his money to buy land.
Kingsley had his glory days, but as in all fairy tales, they did end. Kingsley owned a lot of property around the Colton. Around his property there were many railroad tracks. A dam washed out of the Colton Flowage causing a railroad worker to lose both of his legs by the water flow. After that happened, the railroad company sued Kingsley for the incident.
The dam on the Colton that you see today is not the original dam. The original dam that was on the Colton was washed out in 1938 or 1939. After the original dam was washed out and the new dam was built the river changed its route. Other than when the original dam was washed out the area around the Colton has not been significantly affected by floods.
The Colton Flowage has some pretty neat history. One of the neat parts of history is when the river became wild river property on July 10, 2009. Something else you may not have known was that the river was used for logging at one time. Another cool thing is that the dam that was built on the Colton was for watering the nearby cranberry marshes.
When a friend and I went to the Colton we did some researching and mucking. While we went mucking we found lots of creatures. But we were not able to identify what all of the creatures were. The identifiable creatures that we found were water scorpions, water scavenger beetles, water boatman, crayfish, and we even saw a fish or two.
When we were at the Colton we also did some water testing and got some good results. When we did our testing it was early November, so that may change a few things depending on the time of the year. The temperature of the water was 42 degrees Fahrenheit. The P.H. of the water was 6 which was pretty good seeing as how neutral is 7. We also tested the dissolved oxygen and we got 4 parts per million. The last thing we tested for was coliform bacteria. Our results were negative. So from the information that we gathered, we can conclude that this section of the river is pretty healthy.
Since the Colton Flowage is a part of a wild river, its changes over the course of time will be minimal. And you will be able to visit and enjoy the Colton for generations to come.