Swans of the Yellow River Flowage

Yellow River, we’re lucky to have you. You are our river.

Considering all its charms, the Yellow River is under-appreciated. Washburn County Lakes and Rivers Association would like to change that. Collecting stories, narratives, legends, and anecdotes about the river is a beginning. Maybe you grew up on a small farm on the river, collected wild rice, canoed, fished sturgeon, or were awestruck by the eagle nest west of Tozer Lake. Whatever it may be about, we’d like to hear your story about the Yellow River.

The Yellow River is special. Despite 21st century perils, its 70-mile length from Spooner to the St. Croix River at Danbury is still clean and wild. It is a generous river having provided (and still providing)wild rice to Anishinabe, Ojibwe, people for uncounted generations. The Yellow River has a unique strain of sturgeon, and it is one of few rivers in the nation where river sturgeon spawn naturally. The Wisconsin record sturgeon was caught in Yellow Lake, a wide spot on the river.

Have an interesting perspective? Please send us your story.

Plentiful fish, wild rice, beaver, and pine were raw materials for rich human history on the river. From 1802 to 1805 Yellow River trading posts bought beaver skins from Anishinabe trappers. In the 1880s lumberjacks floated pine logs down the Yellow to the St. Croix to sawmills in Stillwater. Around that time, entrepreneurs built the Veazy Road from Stillwater to Ashland. This was the first wagon road in Northwest Wisconsin, crossing the Yellow River in present-day Bashaw Township, close to Shell Lake and Spooner. Timber companies sold cutover land, luring immigrants to the 234-square-mile watershed of the Yellow River. Know something special about these eras on the river? Please send an account or an idea.

The Yellow River rises here in the townships around Spooner and Shell Lake: Crystal, Beaver Brook, Bashaw, and Evergreen townships. Its sources are pristine springs and pure trout waters, 10 of which can be visited in a one-hour drive from Spooner.

Adventurers from distant parts pass over the Yellow River without a glance, heading north to paddle the famous Namekagon, St. Croix, and Totogatic. The Yellow River is different from those white water rivers. Washburn County Lakes and Rivers Association wants to raise awareness and capture the special qualities of “our” river. Please send stories or ideas for stories, and photos, to Washburn County Lakes and Rivers Association, 850 W. Beaverbrook Ave. Suite 1, Spooner WI 54801, by email to philsvlla@gmail.com, or call Phil Sylla, 715.939.2029.

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