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The Chippewa: Biography of a Wisconsin Waterway

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Inspired by August Derleth’s seminal book The Wisconsin, Richard D. Cornell traveled the Chippewa River from its two sources south of Ashland to where it joins the Mississippi. Over several decades he returned time and again in his red canoe to immerse himself in the stories of the Chippewa River and document its valley, from the Ojibwe and early fur traders and lumbermen Inspired by August Derleth’s seminal book The Wisconsin, Richard D. Cornell traveled the Chippewa River from its two sources south of Ashland to where it joins the Mississippi. Over several decades he returned time and again in his red canoe to immerse himself in the stories of the Chippewa River and document its valley, from the Ojibwe and early fur traders and lumbermen to the varied and hopeful communities of today. Cornell shares tales of such historical figures as legendary Ojibwe leader Chief Buffalo, world famous wrestler Charlie Fisher, and supercomputer innovator Seymour Cray, along with the lesser-known stories of local luminaries such as Dr. John "Little Bird" Anderson. Cornell gathered firsthand stories from diners and dives, local museums and landmarks, quaint small-town newspaper offices, and the homes of old-timers and local historians. Through his conversations with ordinary people, he gets at the heart of the Chippewa and shares a history of the river that is both one of a kind and deeply personal.


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Inspired by August Derleth’s seminal book The Wisconsin, Richard D. Cornell traveled the Chippewa River from its two sources south of Ashland to where it joins the Mississippi. Over several decades he returned time and again in his red canoe to immerse himself in the stories of the Chippewa River and document its valley, from the Ojibwe and early fur traders and lumbermen Inspired by August Derleth’s seminal book The Wisconsin, Richard D. Cornell traveled the Chippewa River from its two sources south of Ashland to where it joins the Mississippi. Over several decades he returned time and again in his red canoe to immerse himself in the stories of the Chippewa River and document its valley, from the Ojibwe and early fur traders and lumbermen to the varied and hopeful communities of today. Cornell shares tales of such historical figures as legendary Ojibwe leader Chief Buffalo, world famous wrestler Charlie Fisher, and supercomputer innovator Seymour Cray, along with the lesser-known stories of local luminaries such as Dr. John "Little Bird" Anderson. Cornell gathered firsthand stories from diners and dives, local museums and landmarks, quaint small-town newspaper offices, and the homes of old-timers and local historians. Through his conversations with ordinary people, he gets at the heart of the Chippewa and shares a history of the river that is both one of a kind and deeply personal.

46 review for The Chippewa: Biography of a Wisconsin Waterway

  1. 4 out of 5

    Linda Stelter

    I enjoyed this book from the comfort of my living room overlooking the beautiful Chippewa River. What a wonderful combination of the geography and history of the river from it’s source to the Mississippi. It’s a treasure for anyone that loves the Chippewa as I do!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jim Gallen

    A river has a life and a story just like a person, or a city or anything else on God’s earth and the Chippewa is no exception. But how many study the waters that flow in it, the shores that line it or the people who live and love and work along it? Fortunately for many, Richard D. Cornell did that for the Chippewa. Over several years he, along with his daughter, KC, and son Drew canoed it from its headwaters to where it empties into the Mississippi. This is not a linear travelogue with a start, A river has a life and a story just like a person, or a city or anything else on God’s earth and the Chippewa is no exception. But how many study the waters that flow in it, the shores that line it or the people who live and love and work along it? Fortunately for many, Richard D. Cornell did that for the Chippewa. Over several years he, along with his daughter, KC, and son Drew canoed it from its headwaters to where it empties into the Mississippi. This is not a linear travelogue with a start, transit and finish. Cornell presents a series of floats that, when combined, encompass the whole river. The Chippewa lies in the western part of Wisconsin, in the land where white pine was king and floated in its waters during the logging days. It runs along cities and towns, such as Glidden, the self-proclaimed Black Bear Capitol of Wisconsin, Eau Claire, where professional baseball met Henry Aaron, Hayward, with its National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame and Durand in Pepin County that gave the world Laura Ingalls Wilder. Readers are introduced to people who live, or lived, along its banks including the Ojibwe whose habitation exceeds memory, Cheryl and Harold Treland, proprietors of Treeland Resorts, and local historian John Dettloff. We become acquainted with the wild Chippewa between the Flambeau River to Jim Falls and the sections tamed by the dams astride it and the workers who control their floodgates. “The Chippewa” packs a lot into 231 pages. Its black and white pictures, contemporary and period, are visual aids to the text while the index directs you back to what you want to read again. This work is travelogue and history, exploration and discovery, river science and industry, virgin waters and managed use. You could read this quickly, but do not. Let it carry you at its own pace, like the river it chronicles. Savor it. It is a tale of a journey of man and daughter, one that the man admits “I didn’t want this to end”. Neither will you. I did receive a free copy of this book without an obligation to post a review.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    This book has something for everyone. It contains the history as know about the region going back to the days when there were no Europeans in the area. It also contains delightful stories of people that are famous as well as the not so famous. Since I love history it especially appeals to me. There is Native American history, logging history, trying to survive after the logging. It is nicely enriched by photos of the people written about as well as photos of the author and his children as they ex This book has something for everyone. It contains the history as know about the region going back to the days when there were no Europeans in the area. It also contains delightful stories of people that are famous as well as the not so famous. Since I love history it especially appeals to me. There is Native American history, logging history, trying to survive after the logging. It is nicely enriched by photos of the people written about as well as photos of the author and his children as they explore the Chippewa River. A must read for all history buffs, especially those who like local history.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Joshua Carney

    not unlike David Owen's where the water goes or Jerry Dennis's The Living Great Lakes, this water biography will take readers into the lives of WI small towns and the history of the Chippewa. Cornell's passion for the river is clear and his writing is generous. a great way to drink deeply from the often overlooked history of western WI's treasure, The Chippewa is a fun fun read for river lovers. not unlike David Owen's where the water goes or Jerry Dennis's The Living Great Lakes, this water biography will take readers into the lives of WI small towns and the history of the Chippewa. Cornell's passion for the river is clear and his writing is generous. a great way to drink deeply from the often overlooked history of western WI's treasure, The Chippewa is a fun fun read for river lovers.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Emma OBrien

  6. 4 out of 5

    Bill Tyroler

  7. 4 out of 5

    tony nierenberger

  8. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Moen

  9. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie

  10. 5 out of 5

    WHS PRESS

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jodi

  12. 4 out of 5

    Thea Reader

  13. 4 out of 5

    Tom

  14. 4 out of 5

    Katie fisher

  15. 4 out of 5

    Don

  16. 4 out of 5

    beverly harrold

  17. 4 out of 5

    Dustin

  18. 4 out of 5

    Diane

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Bradshaw

  20. 4 out of 5

    Samantha

  21. 5 out of 5

    Frederick Rotzien

  22. 4 out of 5

    Micielle

  23. 4 out of 5

    Lorra

  24. 5 out of 5

    Manda

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ms. Reader

  26. 4 out of 5

    Shelley

  27. 4 out of 5

    Janet

  28. 5 out of 5

    Debbie Kennedy

  29. 5 out of 5

    Wanda C

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lana

  31. 4 out of 5

    Pam Mooney

  32. 5 out of 5

    Tammy Dorrance

  33. 5 out of 5

    Susan

  34. 4 out of 5

    Patricia

  35. 4 out of 5

    Wendy

  36. 5 out of 5

    Debee Sue

  37. 4 out of 5

    Jane Macha

  38. 5 out of 5

    Brooke

  39. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Muscat

  40. 4 out of 5

    Gordon Bingham

  41. 4 out of 5

    Therese Wiese

  42. 4 out of 5

    Laureen (Ms. Bibliophile)

  43. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl Bradley

  44. 4 out of 5

    Deborah Lane

  45. 4 out of 5

    Samantha Gunning

  46. 5 out of 5

    Doreen Miller

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