Physical Characteristics


History of Jo Daviess County  1904

The physical characteristics of Jo Daviess County are peculiar and, in some respects, rather remarkable. The land generally is rolling and, as a rule, there is not a great quantity of what is known as prairie land. The general dip of the county is toward the south and west, generally terminating in a high bluff long the banks of the Mississippi River.

It contains within its borders the highest point in the State of Illinois. Many, of the hills of the county are conical in form and one of them, called "Pilot Knob," has been a mark for pilots on the Mississippi River ever since that stream has been navigated along the borders of the county.

Many of its hills or mounds are capped with Dolomitic Niagara Limestone. Under this lies the green and blue shale and limestone of the Cincinnati Group, but the great bed-rock of the county is the Galena Limestone.

The principal streams in the county are the Galena River, Smallpox Creek, the Sinsinawa River, Plum River, Apple River (the latter, with its branches, being the longest river in the county), Big Rush Creek, and Little and Big Menominee. Nearly all of these streams flow in a southwesterly direction and water nearly the entire county.

The Sinsinawa River flows through portions of Vinegar Hill, the Menominee through the west part of Rawlins and West Galena Towns.

The Galena River flows through Council Hill, Vinegar Hill, along the east portion of the Town of Rawlins, and divides East and West Galena.

The Smallpox flows through Guilford, East Galena and Rice.

Apple River, with its branches (one of which is called Mill Creek, another Hell's Branch, others Clear Creek, Wolf Creek, Coon Creek and Welch Creek), waters the Towns of Scales' Mound, Apple River, Guilford, Thompson, Warren, Rush, Nora, Woodbine, Elizabeth and Hanover.

Big Rush Creek, with its branches, waters Stockton, Rush, Woodbine and Derinda.

Plum River, with its branches, waters Stockton, Ward's Grove, Pleasant Valley and Berreman.

So that every township within the county has some stream, either rising within its borders or passing through it, which leads directly to the Mississippi River, generally flowing into that stream in a southwesterly direction. Many of these streams--namely, the Sinsinawa. Galena River, Smallpox. and Apple River-were formerly navigable for a considerable distance from their mouths.

The soil of Jo Daviess County is generally a black loam, and there is no kind of grain or fruit that can be grown in this latitude which the county cannot produce. A large percentage of the timber of the county is oak, although other varieties exist to a considerable extent; but these are now being rapidly cut off for fuel and railroad ties, and, unless such destruction ceases, it will not be many years before Jo Daviess County will be almost void of timber.

It has been noted that, for several years past, timber that has been left standing has, for some cause, ceased to live; but what that cause is has not, as yet, been fully determined. Some attribute it to a small insect, while others claim it is due to a lack of moisture in the soil; but, whatever the cause, steps should be taken to prevent its further ravages and thus protect the timber from entire destruction. The Township of Menominee was formerly heavily wooded, with few farms within its borders; now the timber, excepting along the bluffs, has been almost entirely destroyed and the land is used for agricultural purposes. And what is said of Menominee is true of every other town in the county.

Jo Daviess County also abounds in mines, of which we shall speak more in detail later on, and it is claimed that lead ore, to a greater or less extent, has been found in every town in the county.

The county is peculiarly adapted to the raising of all kinds of stock, as both upland and meadow grass can be found in every town in the county.

For agricultural purposes and mineral wealth Jo Daviess County has not its superior in the State. The county has never been thoroughly examined by geologists, but there seems now to be an awakening to its vast resources, and there is reason to believe it will soon take its position as one of the wealthiest counties in the State.

Nature has been lavish of her gifts county; some of the most beautiful scenery along the banks of the Mississippi is to be within its borders; untold wealth lies beneath its surface, while its soil will produce in abundance anything that will grow in this latitude; and, for stock-raising, it is not excelled by any county of like size in the State.

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