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Wisconsin Manufactures

The richness of the soil of Wisconsin, and its ability to produce in abundance all kinds of grain, as well as the facility by which the lands are brought under subjection, create a permanent demand for all kinds of agricultural implements and mechanical labor. Architectural elegance in public and private buildings, and elaborate perfection in complicated machinery, is not to be expected in new settlements; but many of them in Wisconsin compare favorably with those of the older States. The rapid growth of towns and the great influx of farmers with their families, create a necessity for temporary buildings, soon to be superseded by comfortable dwellings and outhouses; and give constant employ for the mason, the carpenter, and all other mechanics. The immense flouring mills of the State already in operation, as well as those in progress of erection, provide labor for the millwright and machinist, and furnish not only their respective vicinities with all kinds of mill stuff, but more than 100,000 barrels of flour annually for exportation.

To the lumberman, the pineries of Wisconsin present inducements for investment and settlement, which can be hardly over-rated. That of the Upper Wisconsin and its tributaries is the most extensive; and distinguished still more for the fine quality, than the inexhaustible quantities of its timber. The other localities of the white pine and other evergreens are mainly on the Wolf the great northern affluent of the Fox, the tributaries of Green Bay, and on the La Crosse, the Black, Chippewa, and the St. Croix, branches of the Upper Mississippi.

The rapids of these streams furnish abundant water power for the manufacture of lumber, and on the annual spring rise, and occasional freshets at ether seasons of the year; the yield of the mills is floated from the Wolf into Lake Winnebago and the lower Fox; and from most of the other streams into the Mississippi.

Scarcely ten years have elapsed since the Alleghany pine of Western New York and Pennsylvania, had undisputed possession of the market, not only of the Ohio Valley, but of the Mississippi and its tributaries, above New Orleans, at which point it competed with the lumber of Maine and New Brunswick.

The course of the lumber trade may now be considered as permanently changed. The pineries of Wisconsin now control, and will hold exclusive possession of the market of the valleys of the Mississippi and its great western affluent.

The amount of pine lumber estimated to be sawed in Wisconsin annually, is as follows:

Black River: 15,000,000
St. Croix 20,000,000
Chippewa 28,500,000
Wisconsin 58.500,000
Green Bay 21,000,000
Wolf 25,500,000
Manitowoc 24,500,000
Total number of feet 183,000,000

Aside from the manufacture of pine lumber, reaching as it does nearly 400,000,000 feet per year, saw mills driven by both steam and hydraulic power, are now in operation in every section of the State where timber is found, and large quantities of oak scantling and plank, and basswood siding and lath, are yearly manufactured.

Considerable attention has of late been paid to the raising and culture of flax, and this has caused the necessity of oil mills, and machinery for breaking and manufacturing the straw into dressed flax.

Scattered over the State in different localities, are manufactures of various kinds, which are rapidly increasing both in number and respectability. Woolen, flax and cotton mills will soon be-come fixed facts in Wisconsin. The raw material for the two former will be among the more profitable home productions of her agriculture, while the supply of cotton will, through the channel of the Mississippi, be more direct, safe, and easy, than by sea to towns on the Atlantic border. Several paper mills are now in operation, and more than 300,000 pounds of paper was made in the State during the year 1852. For all of these operations there are abundant water powers in suitable localities.

The great number of railroads in progress of construction in Wisconsin have directed the attention of capitalists to the building of locomotives and other railroad fixtures.

During the past year more than 100,000 pounds of shot have been, made in this State. For the year ending June 1850, over 130,000 bushels of grain was manufactured into spirituous and malt liquors; of the former there was made 127,000 gallons, and of the latter 31,300 bbls. During the same period, 14,900 skins and 59,600 sides of leather were tanned The value of agricultural implements was estimated at $1,641,568; fourteen hundred tons of iron cast and 1000 tons of pig iron made; 134,200 pounds of wool was manufactured into cloth.

Source: Wisconsin Gazetteer,  By John Warren Hunt. Madison: Beriah Brown, Printer, 1853

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