We all like to feel special and unique (and even one-of-a-kind), and that need to be different often extends to the place we live – and what's in it. If you can identify with this, we've got bad news for you – at least one local waterway isn't all that special.
We’ll start with the Chippewa River we’re all familiar with, the one that carved our lovely valley and gave it a name. The Mighty Chip runs for 183 miles – from Sawyer County*, through Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire, and finally Durand – before joining the Mississippi. Now known for providing beautiful recreational opportunities, it once was a “logger’s paradise,” providing a watery highway for the astonishing 46 billion board feet of timber in the territory it drained.
Our western neighbor also has a waterway bearing the name “Chippewa.” It winds through the farm country of southwestern Minnesota before emptying into the Minnesota River. Before white settlers named it the Chippewa, the Dakota people called it Maya-waka-wapan, which means “remarkable river with steep places,” a description that fits Wisconsin’s Chippewa, too.
This Chippewa River runs for 92 miles through central Michigan. It’s perhaps most notable for the 1,300-acre Chippewa Nature Center on its banks, as well as The Tridge, a three-way footbridge astride the confluence of the Chippewa and Tittabawassee rivers in Midland.
The Canadians have a Chippewa River, too. This one flows into a bay connected to Lake Superior about 25 miles from the city of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. It’s even got a picturesque, 25-foot-high falls – called Chippewa Falls, naturally – though there’s no brewery in sight.
Yes, it’s technically a creek, but this 8-mile-long waterway is still important. It runs through the suburbs of Cleveland and into Cuyahoga Valley National Park, where it joins the Cuyahoga River. If that name sounds familiar, it should: The Cuyahoga is the river that was so polluted it literally caught on fire in 1969.
The Eau Claire City Council once again overwhelmingly voted to back the Confluence Project – the mixed-use, performing-arts focused development slated to be built on the riverfront in downtown Eau Claire. This time, the support came in the form of a 9-2 vote on a resolution that supported the creation of Eau Claire Confluence Inc., a new nonprofit group that is seeking a $25 million grant from the state to fund UW-Eau Claire’s share of the performing arts center’s cost. (The other half of the cost will be funded by donors and local governments.) The City Council also requested that the city be given a seat on the board of the new nonprofit, which will own and operate the arts center. “I think it’s really important that a public body says, ‘Yes we are interested in joining this 501(c)(3) organization, yes let’s put it in writing, and yes let’s make a commitment, and yes we want a voice at the table,’ ” City Coucilwoman Catherine Emmanuelle said. On a separate 8-3 vote, the council approved an amendment to downtown’s Tax Incremental District No. 8. That special tax district will pay for the city’s commitment to the project.
Prolific local photographer and Eau Claire native Travis Dewitz has spent countless hours preserving the city of Eau Claire on (digital) film. Within his many personal photo series, you’ll find an extensive collection of images documenting the city’s many landmarks and quirks. Having grown up here, Travis has an eye for what makes this place “home.” So in anticipation of Volume One’s upcoming “Rebuilding Our Neighborhoods” theme issue, we asked him to pick out a set of photos that – to him – say “Eau Claire Neighborhood.” What we got is a visual montage of local sites both grand and ... not so grand. But uniquely familiar all the same. Check it out.
Keep reading to see more photos!