The Mississippi River in Prairie du Chien

Take one of our cruises and you’ll see Effigy Mounds National Monument, the 500 foot majestic Pike’s Peak Bluff and State Park, and the mouth of the Wisconsin River – just as the early explorers Marquette and Joliet did in their 1673 expedition! But that’s not all… The cruises always depart the main channel of the Mississippi River. That means they always explore the backwaters of the Upper Miss Wildlife Refuge.

The name of Prairie du Chien came from the French for Prairie of the Dog, an early indian who lived on the prairie. French Canadians, engaged in the fur trade, settled on St. Feriole Island by the river. Gradually the British took over much of the fur trade centered in Prairie du Chien. In the early 1800s, the Americans asserted their victory with the building of Fort Shelby. During the War of 1812, the British and Americans fought for control of the fort and the prairie. July 1814, the only battle of the war fought happened here and is known as The Battle of Prairie du Chien. The fort was burned during the conflict, however, in 1816, Fort Crawford was built and remains today as a museum.

Today, St. Feriole Island hosts several major annual attractions including the Prairie Villa Rendezvous, Prairie Dog Blues Fest and the Villa Louis (more about Villa Louise in the post).

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