Pictures And Lessons As Lake Delton In Wisconsin Drains Away

In the end, Mother Nature will have her way.

That was the main thought on my mind as I stood on what hours before had been Lake Delton.  We like to think as human beings, possessing intelligence and using technology, that we can shape the earth to our whims.  We can conquer all, build anything anywhere, and force the laws of nature to abide by our desires. 

Mother Nature struck back and reminded us all on Monday that we are not in as much control as we would like to think.  Lake Delton, a major economic magnet for the Wisconsin Dells area emptied all of its water in just about 4 hours into the powerful Wisconsin River.  All that was left was the muddy reminders of what had once been.  Piers stuck in the mud, boats arrayed like toys left out by a child, and old tree stumps that had long been covered by water were all that remained.

The history of how Wisconsin Dells came to be is one where business interests trumped the lovers of Mother Nature and natural beauty.  Billboard pollution and fake rocks have never excited a wide swath of the public.  It seemed in some frightful way that Mother Nature was doing in some small way on Monday what God did at the time of the Great Flood.  Trying to cleanse some of the sins away.

Governor Doyle said that the state would work to insure that Lake Delton came back stronger and better than ever.  And I am sure that it will.  

And I am also certain that Mother Nature is watching.  She knows who is really in control.

The high water that had extended well above the beach area drained rapidly as Lake Delton joined the Wisconsin River.

Even after the bulk of the water had left the remaining amounts worked its way through the mud to find an outlet.


Three hours before the man here would have been at least chest high in water.

Ducks found enough water to swim on a dwindling Lake Delton.

The Upper Dells Dam worked over-time to deal with the heavy rains from the weekend.

Tommy Bartlett Water Shows without the water.

Without the water the image is just not as menacing.

This picture above is my favorite of the day.  After all the bustle of the day, and the onslaught of reporters and bloggers, it is just the water and mud that remains, making their own ‘footprint’ on the bottom of Lake Delton.

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48 thoughts on “Pictures And Lessons As Lake Delton In Wisconsin Drains Away

  1. Jan

    This is a well-written article and I agree with everything you said. Mother Nature will always take back what is hers. There is too much building, blacktopping, draining of her wetlands and creating water sheds where none existed before. We forget that it is up to her where the water flows and where it will stay. And, she will make changes as to those conditions whenever evoluation dictates. We as humans have to adjust and build according to the needs of the earth and not money interests. She resents our interference and will let us know eventually that she is displeased. Thanks for the insight.

  2. Marion

    I saw the stranded ducks but were there any fish left high and dry? Anything lost at lake bottom [like boat motor] can now be recovered. Any bodies found? Morbid I know but it happens. Loads of stuff usually surface.

  3. mythoughts

    I sure hope the Governor finds money to help devasted farmers who
    grow the food we eat, and money to repair small community dams,
    before he spends a penny on a man-made lake that rightfully puked
    away half-million dollar luxury homes. That lake has no business
    being there.

    The “real” Dells, meaning the beautiful limestone cliffs on the
    Wisconsin River, are still intact and are the reall “natural beauty
    of the area.” Lake D was just a big luxury pool!

  4. dno

    After reading an artical that stated the home owners were unable to aquire flood insurance,but were assured by the developers that they would not need it because it was dam controlled. Why would the insurance companies balk if it was truly safe. There had to be a geologic survey of the area around the lake. The area above the dam that eroded away was all sand. This lake could not have survived long term with that even if it was 400 yards wide. Yes mother nature had her way but somebody suspected it could happen. If nobody suspected then so be it but if information was buried that revealed the possability. Sometimes I can’t help myself.

  5. Tim

    It is a shame at what has happened. This has happened six times before begining in the 1950’s. I guess people got complacent about this lake and never thought something like this could ever happen. Although I feel sorry for the homeowners who lost their home and their land, I do not believe the State of Wisconsin should give them money. You run the risk of flooding and water damage when you live on the water. That’s why they have insurance you can purchase. Next time think about what matters most to you. The people who have insurance, you are very lucky. To those of you who don’t, lessons learned.

  6. This article is a perfect illustration of why the global warming idea is all a hoax. If man is unable to avoid “Mother Nature” taking away a man-made lake, how is it possible that man can cause the demise of the entire earth? Man, and sophisticated computers are unable to accurately predict the weather tomorrow, so why should we have faith in them being able to predict what the earth is going to be like a year from now, or 10 years from now, or 100 years from now? It is man’s own arrogance pure and simple!

  7. Chris

    There’s an old song I learned at bible camp that goes like this:

    Don’t build your house on the sandy land. Don’t build too near the shore. Oh it might look kinda nice, but you’ll have to build it twice, oh you’ll have to build your house once more. You’ve got to build your house upon the rock, make good foundation on a solid spot….

    Lakes exist so we can boating, swimming, and fishing. They aren’t there so we can build a house precariously close to the shore, and admire how peaceful and pretty it is. This isn’t the first time flood related erosion has claimed homes, and it won’t be the last. Learn from past mistakes people.

  8. I totally agree with many of the comments posted here. Especially the one regarding global warming. It is totally arrogant to think that we have any influence on the global climate. A few sun spots change the temperature of the earth. Many years after we are all dead and gone, the earth will still be here. As lush and as beautiful as the creator intended it to be. All the Lake Delton Disasters will be long forgotten.

  9. Kelly

    I find it humorous that all of these people now decide to rag on the Dells now that it is suffering such a tremendous loss. This community has been a place of memories for people all over the world who have visited. The Dells has brought a tremendous amount of money into the state and even though Lake Delton is man made it still symbolizes a great deal to many people. I worked in the Dells for number of years. I met my husband there many of my closest friends and I felt a deep sadness in seeing my memories wash away in a matter of hours. The point is the community will persevere and go on. And I guarantee, you are all the same people that will visit it once again after it is up and running

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