Lake Winneconne

4,553 Acres

Maximum Depth 9 feet

Lake Winneconne is the smallest of the three Winnebago Upper River Lakes.  Today many question if should not just be a basin of Lake Poygan.  When looking at a recent map or air photo it is easy to see why someone would think this.  The two lakes today are barely separated by a few cane beds, However that was not the case in the past.  Before the construction of dams on the system, and the habitat loss that followed.  The cane beds were part of a wetland complex, that at times was dry enough to graze cattle on.  A large wetland extended from the north shore of the lake this was called Clark’s Point.  From the south shore another wetland complex extended northward.  Only the channel of the Wolf River connected the two lakes.  Today the cane beds that had started in wetland 160 years ago are now stranded in open water.

Hindenburg Line and Lake Winneconne

The Hindenburg Line looking east across Lake Winneconne in June 2014

The cane beds that lie between Lake Poygan are called the Hindenburg Line.  They got their name from World War One vets, who said the sound of all the shooting of ducks there sounded like the artillery bombardment of the Hindenburg Line.  Today there are far few ducks to shoot at, and so the booming of the guns has faded.

The famous Hindenburg Line (Siegfriedstellung) was as series of German defenses on the Western Front in World War I, where the German Army was to retreat to if necessary, which it did.  Like the military positions, the line of cane beds serves a defensive purpose for Lake Winneconne.  The line of remaining cane beds reduces wave action, and submergent aquatic vegetation, once the norm throughout the lake, is found on the east side, protected from the prevailing wind and waves.  Today wild celery and perhaps a dozen wild rice plants hold on to their slowly eroding fortifications.  Should the Hindenburg line not hold, neither will the wild celery.  Unlike WWI there will be no armistice, only a slow fade to nothing.

Lake Winneconne marsh slough

Stiff Arrowhead and Hard-stem Bulrush at the mouth of Sutter’s Creek, Lake Winneconne.

Lake Winneconne Bulrush

An unusual habitat on the Upper River Lakes: Threesquare Bulrush and Creeping Spikerush on the north shore of Lake Winneconne.