RELIEF AND PARENT MATERIAL

Eau Claire County did not experience continental glaciation during the late-Pleistocene.  As such, the landscape is dominated by deeply dissected, concave upward stream valleys and sandstone bedrock controlled ridges (pediments).  The northern half of the Schofield parcel, referred to here as the Lost-Highway site is in the headwaters of Nine Mile Creek, a tributary of the Eau Claire River.  In turn, the Eau Claire River flows into the Chippewa, an important tributary to the upper Mississippi River.

At the study site, soil texture and mineralogy strongly reflect the sandstone parent material.  In addition, finer soil textures result from inclusions of loess-derived sediments eroded from further uphill.  A 1-3 m veneer of silty, windblown loess was deposited on the bedrock controlled upland during the Terminal Late-Pleistocene.  Though no glacial till was observed in this study, rock piles built by Euro-American farmers on the site include some glacially-transported rocks (erratics). 

LOCAL HISTORY AND LAND-USE TRENDS

Eau Claire County, so named by French fur traders during the 1700s was opened for EuroAmerican settlement following the 1837 treaty between the U.S. and Chippewa (Ojibwa) Indians.  Small lumbering operations started along the Chippewa Valley along the river beginning in the 1840's.  Lumbering reached its peak in the 1880's.  Farming began in the middle of the 1800s.  Small dairy farms quickly became the norm and remain the trademark of Wisconsin.  The lower landscape positions of the study area were farmed in this manner until the early 1970s.  More recently, the county began experiencing a rapid change in rural land-use.  Sparked by the suburban sprawl  emanating outward from Eau Claire, rural land-use is changing from dairy agriculture to "hobby farms" and low-density single-family housing. 

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