The History of Lake Chetac In Birchwood, Wisconsin: A Glimpse Into The Past

Lake Chetac is located in the southeast corner of Sawyer County near the town of Birchwood. It is 1920 acres with a maximum depth of 26’. There are two public boat access sites, both on the east side of the lake. Lake Chetac is connected by navigable boating channel to Birch Lake. Known as a good fishing lake, the fish population includes walleye, northern, large and smallmouth bass, and panfish.



The Delightful History of Lake Chetac

Lake Chetac is the result of a geolog

ical process involving glacial action that occurred from 900 A.D. to 1850 A.D. that changed the natural shape of the lake. Lake Chetac is a lake ridge which was created when the glacier removed a piece of the rock-filled bluff on the west side of the lake. This has given the lake the appearance of having two humps. The north hump of the lake is separated by a shallow water gap. The south hump of the lake is part of the Sawyer River watershed and includes the river. The Lake Chetac watershed extends into Trosper Township, Sawyer County, Wisconsin, as far as Beadle Creek. The first white settlers were natives of Wisconsin. Most were from eastern Iowa. The settlers had first settled along the Mississippi River in what is now the Midwest.


Early 1800's Logging Industry

Logging operations took place on the lake beginning in 1885. The first commercial logging operations were held by Northern Lumber and Grass Factory and 1885. Charles E. Myers and George J. Johnson founded Northern Lumber and Grass Factory, and George Johnson operated the sawmill at Logging Lake. The establishment of the sawmill was very important to the area. Logging Lake was part of a drainage system, and the forests cut were used as firewood for the growing settlements in the area. The growth


of Birchwood attracted a number of loggers. The area had some logging and other seasonal industries until about 1908 when the forest resources were exhausted. A monument for the Birchwood Lumber Company is located in Birchwood.


The decline of the logging industry

The logging industry along the Chetac watershed is long since gone and there are very few remaining trees. In 1964, nearly 1,000 acres of the Chetac watershed were protected from logging by a conservation easement with the Sabin family. This land is now managed by the Chetac Watershed Conservation Foundation and the Birchwood School District. How to get to Lake Chetac Although it is only 20 minutes from Birchwood, Lake Chetac can be reached by only one road. The highway is most often used in winter to deliver supplies to the Birchwood area, but it is open year round. Lake Chetac is located about three miles south of Birchwood on Wisconsin Highway 9.




In addition to this area being a beautiful county park, there is an extensive public boat access area on Lake Chetac with three public access points located at the intersection of the lake, Birchwood State Park, and Mud Lake Road.


Lake Chetac is popular for cross-country skiing, hiking, and bird watching. Birchwood State Park, located on the north side of Lake Chetac has 50 campsites and provides access to many recreational opportunities in the surrounding area. Birchwood has horse and snowmobile trails and picnic areas. Birchwood also has a 9-hole disc golf course. Mud Lake Road and Birchwood State Park have viewing areas for viewing birds.


Hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, fishing, bird watching, and boating are all recreational opportunities available at Lake Chetac State Park.


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