Two country rides through Buffalo County

July 27, 2014

I have driven through Buffalo County in the west, along the Mississippi River, a few times, usually returning to Wausau from Minnesota. I enjoyed two fantastic rides that I wish to show you here. One was from Fountain City after crossing the bridge from Winona, the other from Nelson after crossing from Wabasha to the north northwest, both Wisconsin towns on the Mississippi. No matter how you go through Buffalo County, it will be a beautiful ride.

The entire county resides in what scientists call the Western Upland Georaphic Province, also referred to as the Western Coulee and Ridges Ecological Landscape. The word “coulee” is often applied to different landforms which have valleys, deep ravines and drainage zones. It seemed to me these all apply to what I saw in Buffalo County.

Let’s take a look at my ride out of Fountain City

From Fountain City, I headed to the east on Hwy 95 for a very short while, and turned left, to the north on CH G. I proceeded both on CH G for a very short distance and turned off on Lower Eagle Valley Road, which heads due west back toward the Mississippi. Eagle Valley itself runs in a northeasterly direction from the road. The landscape was spectacular.

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Shortly after leaving Hwy 95 onto CH G I came upon Sean Quarry. It is a Limestone Quarry Training Area owned by Kraemer Mining Co. For our purposes, it shows what the area’s land sits on, landscapes you will see in a moment.

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A closer look. I’d like to spend just a moment on this. Limestone quarries are a significant activity in southwestern Wisconsin. Limestone is Wisconsin’s leading non-fuel mineral product. Richland, Crawford , Vernon, Sauk, Grant, Iowa and Lafayette Counties rank at the top in production. Kraemer There is a good paper done on the subject entitled, “Quarrying in the Karst of Southwestern Wisconsin: History, Significance and Prospects,” by Mick Day and Masin Bindl. Kraemer Co., located in Plain, Sauk Couny, dominates the industry on Wisconsin.

Now comes a totally different kind of fun.

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I am still on CH G, having passed the quarry, and as you can see, a beautiful scene starts to unfold. I am heading north. Note the farm complex in the distance.

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This is that farm complex I alerted you to. The road you see left of center is Lower Eagle Valley Road, and I turned off on it, to the left. It heads due west. In the distance, looking through the valley left of center, you can see a ridge. That is a bluff on the Minnesota side of the Mississippi River.

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I am on Lower Eagle Valley Road. I am certain I was the only one on the road. It is paved, and the scenery even in early March, was fabulous. There is a lot to be said for traveling through the countryside in the early spring. There are no leaves on the trees, you get to see a lot you cannot see in the summer.

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I continued heading west for a while, and then turned my head and saw the Eagle Valley in all her splendor. So I did a u-turn to get this shot and kept on heading back out to the east on Lower Eagle Valley Road. Little did I know at the time that had I remained on Lower Eagle Valley Road until it ended, I would have returned to Hwy 35 and the Mississippi River at Merrick State Park.

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Easy to fall in love with this landscape.

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Still on Lower Eagle Valley Road heading east to CH G, I ran across a church named the Evangelical Reformed Church in 1905 when it was built. The building was purchased in 1949 by Werner Stettler, Sr., in keeping with the wishes of his father, Ernest. Care for the building passed on to Werner Jr. and its contents to his daughter, Kathleen. In 2003 Werner Jr. gave the building to St. John’s Church of Christ in Fountain City to serve as a place of worship for the community.


Now my ride from Nelson up to Mondovi

I was returning from Minnesota and crossed the Mississippi into Wisconsin on Hwy 25 through Wabasha and into Buffalo County. The Mississippi here is very marshy, with some neat cliffs and scenery on the Wisconsin side, easily visible from the vicinity of Nelson. This area is known as the Upper Wisconsin Wildlife Refuge.

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Loved how this barn was so nicely nestled below the cliffs and ridge.

Just north of Nelson, I hooked onto CH D and stayed on it all the way to Hwy 37 just south of Mondovi, traveling to Mondovi alongside the Buffalo River. The scenery was magnificent. This is great country. I recommend this drive.

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At the end of CH D, I merged into Hwy 37 and headed to Mondovi. From Mondovi I headed north on CH H and took this scenic overlook shot from the northeast corner of Buffalo County, very close to the Pepin County line. This looks west into Buffalo County.

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