History of the Mead Wildlife Area

Wisconsin’s First People

History of the Mead Wildlife Area Paleo Indian artifacts dating from as far back as 12,000 years ago have been found on what is now the Mead property. Archaic Indian Hunters, Gatherers, and Fishermen, and Woodland Indians all used this area because of the abundance of wildlife and availability of plant foods.

Fur Traders and Indians

Fur Traders and Indians at Mead Wildlife Area In the 1600’s, European fashion demanded furs. The Native Americans eagerly engaged in trade with new France in exchange for goods that transformed their lives. Little Eau Pleine trappers traded under the flags of three nations: France, (1650 to 1763), England, (1763 to 1816), and the United States, (1816 to 1850). More on Fur Traders & Indians.

Loggers and Farmers

Loggers and Farmers at Mead Wildlife Area

Soon after statehood in 1848, every stream and river north of what is now Stevens Point became a highway to the “pinery”. White pines were floated to mills on the Wisconsin River. In 1870, railroads ushered in a forty-year logging boom on the Little Eau Pleine. More on Loggers & Farmers.

Reservoir of Refuge?

In 1933, with dreams of giant reservoirs in both the Big and Little Eau Pleine valleys, the Consolidated Water Power and Paper Company acquired the bottomlands. The Big Eau Pleine dam was built in 1936, but, because of opposition from conservationists and local residents, the Little Eau Pleine dam was never built. The Little Eau Plaine Reservoir would have covered 27,500 acres, making it the second largest lake in Wisconsin.

A Refuge is Born

Stanton Mead

On April 10, 1959, Stanton Mead, (speaking here), President of Consolidated Paper Company, gifted 20,000 acres to the state of Wisconsin to be used for a wildlife refuge. It was named for his father, George W. Mead. The dedication was held on Teal Flowage, one mile north of Mead’s education building. Seated in front is then Governor Gaylord Nelson.