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Off the Editor’s Desk – 9-24-2014


When did the first Caucasian people visit our area? The area of the Chippewa River Valley along the banks of the Red Cedar, Hay River and Tiffany Creek.

 It is well established that in our area, around the Red Cedar River, the development occured around the time that the Stout lumbering interest out of Menomonie cut off the timber. But west of that was the area of the hills and valleys that make up the western part of Dunn County and Eastern St. Croix County.

The area around Glenwood City did not open up until the survey and construction of the Wisconsin Central Railroad in the early 1880s was done. This opened up this area for the cutting and transporting of the lumber. Stout and Company did own land in Forest Township, but most of the other lands in the area belong to the lumbering interest out of Downing and Glenwood City.

As I was growing up, our neighbor, Louis Larson told me several stories about the area when he arrived before 1900. He talked about the train (named Old Betsy) that the lumbering company in Glenwood City used to haul logs from as far north as Graytown to the mills.

But one story that has stuck in my mind was, about the size of the forest and how difficult it was to find your way through it. Larson related to me about one time he needed to travel from Glenwood to Downing. He attempted to walk through the woods, but became lost. He found his way back to Glenwood and walked the railroad tracks to Downing.

Larson related this to me as I was a young teenager and he was approaching the century mark.

I think of how thick the forest was, but could some other European explores or others have come through long before the nineteenth century. I bring this thought up and ask if anyone knows about a Roman Coin found near Glenwood City back in the 1890s.

Back in 1900, C.J. Augustin, then editor of the Glenwood Tribune published a Souvenir Number of the Glenwood Tribune, which was a history of Glenwood during its first fifteen years.

In the opening page, he pens a column of Glenwood’s past stating: “How many years ago the first white man visited the region about Glenwood is merely a matter of conjecture, and very hazy conjecture at that. Certain it is that far back of any known Caucasian visitation or settlement, centuries, perhaps, representatives of the all-conquering race looked upon the same hills, breathed the same air, and perchance, drank from the very creeks which lend charm and put joy into the lives of Glenwooders of the present day. This is no mere figment of fancy, but is supported by evidence ‘strong as proofs of Holy Writ.’ Only a year or two since, under a great ledge of rock on the farm of Henry Van Ryn, just beyond the city limits, was found embedded in the softer rock near the bottom of the ledge, which rises some fifteen feet above the banks of Sand Creek, a bronze Roman coin bearing the name and profile of the Emperor Trajan, who reigned about 100 A.D. The coin is now in the possession of Mr. Van Ryn, and its worn condition and generally ancient appearance, leaves no room for doubt as to its genuineness. In fact, it has been examined by expert numismatists and pronounced a genuine coin of the reign of the emperor whose superscription it bears.”

What happened to that coin? Or was it just a story made up by someone. I would like to know if anyone has information about this or any other artifacts that could date back to the second century, found in this area. I would sure like to know.

Don’t everyone rush to Sand Creek with a shovel looking for more Roman coins. The Van Ryn farm was in Section 14 of the Town of Glenwood, to the southeast of the present town hall. That area along the creek has been distributed over time. I don’t remember if they took fill from the banks of the creek to rebuild County Highway X many years ago, or was the fill used in the construction of the dam on the creek, just to the west of the Van Ryn farm?

Thanks for reading! — Carlton