Archive for November, 2009

End-of-decade holiday blowout quiz

November 24, 2009

The year’s final quiz is open-book and open-Internet. If you’re not sure, give your best guess—who can pass up a chance at this prize? The winner gets either two lively hours in the field with Gordon and Jeff (hot chocolate provided), or Bob Birmingham’s Spirits of Earth, a book about Madison’s effigy mounds due out in December. Terrence the Unseen Madison cat breaks ties. Send answers via e-mail ( or or comment.

1. In 1855, the Yahara chain of lakes got a new set of names: Kegonsa, Waubesa, Monona, and Mendota replaced First, Second, Third, and Fourth lakes (numbered in the order they’d been surveyed). Where did the new names come from?

a. what the Ho-Chunk called the lakes

b. what the Sauk and Fox called the lakes

c. what the Ojibwe called the lakes

d. what Madison officials called them after consulting faulty vocabulary lists to find attractive Indian names

2. Which tree species dominated the Four Lakes area as noted in the 1834 public land survey?

3. How many trees older than the 1776 Declaration of Independence still stand in Madison?

a. only one (PDF)

b. about 50

c. about 150

d. about 250

4. What landscape feature on the east side of the isthmus caused Madison’s factory area to develop there?

5. How did the maple forest east of Lake Mendota (which gave Maple Bluff its name) survive in a savanna landscape that Native people burned regularly, since maple isn’t fire-resistant?

Visiting Nine Mounds in Verona with quiz winner

November 12, 2009

Recently our September quiz winner, Mirna Santana, collected her prize: spending a wet morning with Gordon and Jeff in Verona. Thanks to Mirna’s good company it was more fun than it sounds. Our modest mission was to find the reason for Nine Mound Road in Verona. We supposed there had been nine effigy mounds nearby, and it turns out that “Nine Mounds” stood on a hilltop near the Sugar River, a little west of today’s Nine Mound Road (click map to enlarge). The mounds were probably plowed under in the 1880s.

After our Dead Lake Ridge podcast we couldn’t help noticing the massive quarry operations along Nine Mound Rd. Unlike Dead Lake Ridge, here the quarries had nothing to do with the destruction of the mounds. The quarries mine sand and gravel from the outwash of the Johnstown moraine, the farthest reach of the last glacier. The moraine is easy to see at Prairie Moraine county park. Listen to audio from our trip:

Visit October quiz locations before winter

November 2, 2009

Unseen Madison is impressed: our October quiz winner knew all 7 locations for these Madison-area effigy mounds. Another person had 6 and two had 5. Pheasant Branch Conservancy and Spring Harbor were the most unfamiliar locations. You’ll see from the photo that Pheasant Branch is worth a special visit. Spring Harbor, just off University Ave., may be on your way. The great thing about our local effigy mounds is that most are easy to find. We encourage you to take one small detour a week to see mounds! Click the thumbnails for larger images and more information.

We’ll have a November quiz soon. Once again the stakes will be high! As always the winner receives two hours in the field with Gordon and Jeff, or something else we haven’t thought of yet (October’s alternative prize was Indian Mounds of Wisconsin by Bob Birmingham and Leslie Eisenberg).