In 1911, Devil's Lake became the third State Park in Wisconsin.
Devil's Lake was created when the last glacier to visit this area began to retreat approximately 14,000 years ago. Glacial debris plugged both ends of the Devil's Lake Gorge as the ice melted. An ancient river that once flowed through the gorge was diverted away by these glacial plugs called terminal moraines. A lake was left behind as a gift from the glacier!
The first inhabitants of the Devil's Lake Area would arrive as the glacier began its final retreat. Native Americans would live here for 500 generations before the first recorded white person, John T. de La Ronde, would arrive in 1832.
They believed that a good spirit, or Manitou, dwelled in the depths of the lake. In their language, they called the lake "Spirit Lake" or "Sacred Lake."
After de La Ronde's visit, settlers would soon be drawn to this mystical lake as stories were told of the magnificent purple bluffs that rose 500 feet above the water. These settlers of European descent would bring with them the customs they knew of land ownership and fencing the land.
Settlers also brought with them superstitions about spirits that dwelled in nature.
Unexplained noises that would echo off of the bluffs added to the mystical aura of the gorge.
Thinking in terms of evil spirits, they would soon corrupt the name "Spirit Lake" to "Devil's Lake."
Caption for upper right photo on marker: Between 700 and 1100 AD, earthen mounds in the shapes of animals were constructed near the lake by a Middle-Woodland culture of Native American called Effigy Mound Builders. The mounds exist to this day.
Caption for map at bottom right on marker: Early map of Devil's Lake.