Lake Wissota turns 100 years old, gets celebration

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CHIPPEWA COUNTY, Wis. (WEAU) -- Lake Wissota is turning 100 years old this year and local organizations gave the prominent man-made lake a birthday celebration.

“Lake Wissota in the summer,” Jerry Way, a local artist, sang an original song about the history of Lake Wissota during the 100 year celebration held in the Lake Wissota State Park Saturday. The dam on the southwest side of the lake was the initial step of the lake’s formation.

“They started in 1915 and it wasn’t completed until 1918, but it was up and functioning in 1917,” Jim Schuh, the event’s planning committee chair, said. “100 years ago from now, the generators were just starting to run.”

Since its inception, it’s been quite the energy producer for the area.

“The Lake Wissota facility itself – the dam here provides enough energy for about 30,000 homes per day, so it’s a nice part of our energy mix,”

Energy production is one large portion of the lake’s history, but one man is a big part of it too.

“I live on the east end of Lake Wissota for 71 years now,” Mike Huhn, who’s 101 years old, said. “I used to waterski for 50 years. I showed 200 people how to waterski on Lake Wissota.”

Schuh says it’s unusual to be celebrating the birth of a lake.

“This seemed like a perfect opportunity to use the anniversary to raise everyone’s awareness of the lake and some of the environmental concerns that we have that we want to keep it a good resource for us into the future,” Schuh said.

As far as the lake’s environment is concerned, you might have noticed less algae in the past few years; the Little Lake Wissota Stewardship Program has helped clean the water and the environment since it started in 2011.

“We’ve brought back roughly 12 clean water days to the lake and by clean water, I mean days you’d like to go swimming and fishing and not having to worry about green algae in the lake,” Dan McCabe, a plant manager at Leinenkugel’s and part of the Little Lake Wissota Stewardship Program, said.

100 years of thriving in the Chippewa Valley, looking forward to 100 more.

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