History Of Lake Holcombe
A Look Back At Little Falls Dam
The NSP dam at Holcombe is actually the third dam to be constructed along this stretch of the Chippewa River. The original dam, which spanned the river less than one mile north of the present structure, was called the Little Falls Dam.
Built in 1872 by the Union Lumbering Company, both the dam and community were then known as Little Falls. Of timber crib construction, the dam was reputed to be the world's largest. (right angle) wooden dam. Its purpose was to store water that could later be released to float logs down river. In the late 1800s, the virgin timber in the country to the north attracted a growing lumber industry. Floods were still common events on the Chippewa River, and portions of the wooden dam frequently floated away in times of high water. In 1885, a flood finally tore the dam out entirely. It was immediately rebuilt, however, to meet the needs of the Chippewa Lumber and Board Company, which had acquired the dam in 1880. Operating the world's largest sawmill down river in Chippewa Falls, the company built the world's Largest wooden darn to supply the logs. While the dam brought prosperity to the area, it also witnessed tragedy. A terrible accident occurred at the dam in 1905 when a river boat capsized and eleven young men, who were taking part in the annual log drive drowned.
By 1910 the logging boom was over and the big mill closed its doors. Although the sawmill had endured floods and fires, survived market crashes, and driven out its competitors, it finally failed when the supply of logs was gone. That year the dam at Little Falls was also abandoned.
In 1912 the site was purchased by the Chippewa Valley Construction Company, which sold it in 1914 to the Wisconsin-Minnesota Light and Power Company (later Northern States Power Company). Buffeted by the river, the rest of the Little Falls Dam washed away sometime in the 1920s. It wasn't until 1950, when the present dam was completed, that the river's power at Holcombe was again harnessed, This time to light the buildings constructed of the logs once collected behind the old wooden dam.
Stacker Park, Cornell
Ezra Cornell was the man who founded the City of Cornell, Wisconsin, but actually never lived here. Cornell was born in 1807 in New York State of Quaker parents. He was a farmer, inventor, businessman, statesman, and a philanthropist. He became a line building contractor and invested his earnings in the Western Union telegraph system, which he helped organize.
Ezra Cornell was the founder and benefactor of Cornell University located in Ithaca, New York. While looking for lands to help the University, Cornell often visited Jean Brunet's trading post and home. During the last year of the Civil War in 1866, Cornell located and surveyed the lands in this area around Brunet Falls and the Chippewa River. He was so impressed with the area, and with the advice of his close friend Jean Brunet, he purchased vast tracts of land and waterpower. He hoped to establish mills and manufacture lumber in order to create a market for the vast timber on these over 100,000 acres. The purpose being to assist Cornell University.
In 1867, he organized the New York Manufacturing and Improvement Company to further his plans to build a mill and town at Brunet Falls. Cornell prepared a map of the future village, which is very similar in all details to the plat of this city today. Cornell died in 1877 before his plans could be realized. On his death bed he gave all his land, the waterpower, and the site of Brunet Falls to Cornell University as a rich endowment. Brunet Falls was later renamed Cornell in his honor.
Other historical links: http://www.chippewacounty.com