Ashland County Highway Markers
Contributed by Joan Benner



FLEET ADMIRAL WILLIAM D. LEAHY
Location: Bay View Park, near junction of US Hwy. 2 and State Hwy 13, Ashland
Erected: 1991


William Daniel Leahy was born in Iowa in 1875, and his family soon moved to Wisconsin. He graduated from Ashland High School in 1892 and for the rest of his life considered ashland his home town. Leahy graduated from the Naval Academy and served in the Spanish-American War, He planned naval operations for U.S. interventions in Nicaragua (1912), Haiti (1916), and Mexico (1916). During World War I, he became friendly with Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Franklin D. Roosevelt. Leahy was made chief of the Bureau of Ordinance in 1927, rear admiral in 1930, and chief of naval operations in 1937. During the darkest hours of World War II in 1942, President Roosevelt appointed Leahy chief of staff to the commander-in-chief. Leahy's tact and resourcefulness made him a valuable aide in military and diplomatic undertakings, including the inter-Allied conferences at Tehran, Yalta, and Potsdam. Admiral Leahy became the first American sailor, and the only Wisconsinite, the attain the five-star rank of Fleet Admiral. He died in 1959 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

RADISSON - GROSEILLIERS FORT
Location: On Hwy 2 at the western edge of Ashland's city limits
Erected: 1951


A crude structure of boughs of trees "layed acrosse, one uppon an other" was erected near here by Pierre Radisson and Medart Groseilliers in 1659. The two French traders came to Chequamegon Bay from Montreal and Radisson's account of their journey reports "at the end of this bay we landed." This very profitable trip resulted in confiscation of their licenses and furs because they refused to share the proceeds with the French Governor of Canada. In anger Radisson and Groseilliers went to England and persuaded Prince Rupert to sponsor an expedition to Hudson Bay. The return of Groseilliers with a great cargo of beaver skins was soon followed by the issue of a royal charter to the Hudson's Bay Company. Thus the dream of two adventurers for exploitation of northern North America was to contribute much to the long conflict between England and France for control of the continent.

NORTHLAND COLLEGE
Location: On Northland College's Campus, Ellis Avenue on Hwy 13 at Ashland
Erected: 1976


North Wisconsin Academy, founded in 1892 by the Congregational Church, provided the first high school education available to young people of the small, isolated lumber camp, sawmill and farm communities in the area known as the Great Lakes Pinery, but commonly referred to as "A God-forsaken Waste." It stretched across the northern third of Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota. The Academy was to be co-educational, to have a program of classical studies, to train both mind and character, and to be geared to the resources of the pioneer families it was intended to serve. The laying of the cornerstone of the Academy Building on July 14, 1892, was an historic moment marking the advance of educational and cultural opportunities into northern Wisconsin. In 1906 the Academy expanded its progrm to become Northland College, and on March 7, 1907, the Academy Building was renamed Wheeler Hall, a tribute to the Rev. E. P. Wheeler, first president of the Academy. This building, diagonally across from this site, is a landmark of progress to area citizens and a revered spot to every student who ever attended the Academy or College.

MADELINE ISLAND
Location: At La Pointe, on Madeline Island
Erected: 1961


Known to the Ojibway Indians as Moningwunakauning, "The Home of the Golden-Breasted Woodpecker," the largest of the Apostle Islands was one of the earliest areas of Indian settlement, fur trade, missionary activity and commercial fishing in the interior of North America. It was discovered by French explorers in 1659. Trading posts were built here for the French by LeSueur in 1693 and for the British by Michael Cadotte in 1793. In 1834 this site and present La Pointe dock became headquarteres for the Northern Outfit of the American Fur Company. Missionary operations began about 1830 with the erection of a Protestant Church followed by Father Baraga's Catholic Church.

GREAT DIVIDE
Location: Hwy 13, about 2.5 miles north of Hwy. 77 and 10 miles south of Mellen
Erected: 1956


You are now on the Great Divide which separates the two principal drainage areas of Wisconsin. Water falling to the north of this point finds its way into Lake Superior, then down through the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River 2,000 miles into the Atlantic Ocean. Water which falls to the south of here runs down the Chippewa River in to the "Father of Waters," and after 1,600 miles reaches the Gulf of Mexico. The elevation here is approximately 950 feet above Lake Superior and 1,550 feet above sea level.

THE BAD RIVER
Location: Hwy 2 at Odanah
Erected: 1957


The Mauvaise (Bad) River was so named by the French due to the difficulties of its navigation. The Indians called it Mushkeezeebi or Marsh River. In 1845 the Rev. H. L. Wheeler, Protestant missionary at La Pointe, planned an agricultural settlement near the mouth of the Bad River where Indians had for many years made their gardens. He named the settlement "Odanah," a Chippewa word meaning "village." About 1850 a determined effort was begun to compel the Indians to move west of the Mississippi. Mr. Wheeler visited the lands to which it was proposed the Lake Superior Chippewa should go. He returned with the conviction it would be a deed of mercy on the part of the government to shoot the Indians rather than send them to the new region. In July, 1853, Mrs. Wheeler wrote her parents, "They (the Chippewa) are fully determined not to go. They have lived two years without their payments, and find they do not starve or freeze." Mr. Wheeler's pleadings were not in vain. The government resumed the payments, and his ideas of justice toward the Chippewa were substantially embodied in a treaty made with them in 1854 providing for them three reservations, at Odanah, at Lac Court Oreilles and at Lac du Flambeau.