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Wisconsin: USA Encyclopedia For Students And Children

Wisconsin is located in the northern interior of the United States in the upper Midwest. It is bounded on the north by Lake Superior and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, on the south by Illinois, on the west by Iowa and Minnesota, and on the east by Lake Michigan. Wisconsin extends about 475 km (295 mi) east to west at its widest point, and about 515 km (320 mi) north to south. The state took its name from its principal river, the Wisconsin, whose name had been derived from an Ojibwa Indian word thought to mean “gathering of the waters.” Wisconsin’s nickname, the Badger State, comes not from the wild animal of that name found in small numbers in the upper Midwest, but from the nickname given to lead miners of the 1830s who burrowed into hillsides looking for shallow deposits of ore.

Wisconsin StampWisconsin ranks 16th (1990) in population among the 50 states and ranks 13th in the value of its manufacturing. As urbanized as the state has become, Wisconsin remains the nation’s leading dairy state–accounting for almost 18% (1986) of U.S. milk and about half of U.S. cheese production–and consistently leads in the production of green peas, string beans, and sweet corn.

Land & Resources

Wisconsin USAWisconsin may be divided into five physiographic regions: the Lake Superior lowland; the northern highland; the central sandy plain; the western upland, extending across the southwestern portion of Wisconsin; and the eastern ridges and lowlands.

The Lake Superior lowland, once a glacial lake bed, is now a level to gently rolling red clay plain along Lake Superior in the northwestern corner of the state. Wisconsin’s largest physical region, the northern highland, extends south from the Lake Superior lowland and covers the northern third of the state. It consists essentially of a gently rolling glaciated plain of low local relief, although Rib Mountain in Marathon County reaches 592 m (1,940 ft). The state’s highest point, Timm’s Hill, at 595 m (1,951 ft), is located in southeastern Price County. In the crescent-shaped central sandy plain, edging along the southern margin of the northern highland and generally underlain by sand and sandstone formations, local relief varies from the flattish beds of ancient glacial lakes to rolling glacial moraines and, in a few western sections, scattered mesas and buttes.

The western upland, in the southwest, contains some of Wisconsin’s roughest landscape. Glaciation covered little of the region, so mature river systems have had millions of years to cut an intricate, hilly landscape. By contrast, the eastern ridges and lowlands region has low relief because of recent glaciation, but occasional moraines of up to 100 m (300 ft) mark places where glacial lobes stopped prior to withdrawal.

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