At one time, the Wise Experts had Tennessee Valley Authority envy, sailing under the banners of Flood Control and Water Sports.
In 1962, Congress authorized the Army Corps of Engineers to construct a dam at La Farge that would create a 1,780-acre lake. Dam supporters played up the recreational and tourism potential of the new reservoir.Sometimes, further study is useful.
Ground was broken in 1971 and the government bought up 140 farms — some taken through eminent domain — along the river. Highway 131 was moved, a control tower started going up and work began on building the earthen dam.Might be worth a trip, this is not far from Baraboo, where there will be a Ringling Barnum reunion later this month.
But when a more intense environmental impact survey revealed the lake’s water quality would be abysmal and costs began soaring, support for the project began to erode. In 1975 after $18 million was spent, work was stopped.
The area remained stuck in that special brand of government amber for two decades, until Congress authorized return of the land to Wisconsin and the Ho-Chunk nation, its original human inhabitants, to be turned into the Kickapoo Valley Reserve.