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Wriggling down from the north, a great serpent left a gigantic groove in the land. Water rushed in to fill the winding path the snake left behind. The result, according to Winnebago Indians, was the awesome Wisconsin Dells. The state's foremost natural attraction, the Dells were actually created by the Wisconsin River cutting a channel through the sandstone. In 1857, Byron Kilbourn founded Kilbourn City but locals and visitors alike had already nicknamed the area the "Dells." The city was renamed Wisconsin Dells in 1931 to capitalize on the natural landscape for which it was already famous. With Mother Nature's beauty galore, the Dells have ...

Wriggling down from the north, a great serpent left a gigantic groove in the land. Water rushed in to fill the winding path the snake left behind. The result, according to Winnebago Indians, was the awesome Wisconsin Dells. The state's foremost natural attraction, the Dells were actually created by the Wisconsin River cutting a channel through the sandstone. In 1857, Byron Kilbourn founded Kilbourn City but locals and visitors alike had already nicknamed the area the "Dells." The city was renamed Wisconsin Dells in 1931 to capitalize on the natural landscape for which it was already famous. With Mother Nature's beauty galore, the Dells have been drawing visitors for centuries. Photographer Henry Hamilton Bennett is credited as "the man who made Wisconsin Dells famous" with his 19th century landscape photos. Stop by his old studio to see some amazing scenes. The army surplus land and water vehicles known as "ducks" were brought to the Dells in 1946 by Mel Flath. Flath had originally bought the vehicles at a government auction in California where he planned to buy war surplus trucks. The open-air amphibious vehicles are now a popular sight in the Dells, offering a bumpy ride through woods before splashing into the river. Over the years, other attractions have made the Dells their home. Tommy Bartlett's Thrill Show arrived in 1952 and never left. Bumper stickers advertising his show in the Dells traveled around the country, drawing even more tourists. In the late 1970s, the Dells became a water park mecca with almost two dozen indoor and outdoor water parks, along with other attractions.

Jackie Finch
About the Expert

Jackie Sheckler Finch has written several guidebooks, including The Unofficial Guide to Campgrounds in the Great Lakes States, and four times she was named Travel Writer of the Year by Midwest Travel Writers Association.

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Jackie Finch for Triporati

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    Spring and autumn