Site 17 Comstock Bog

Site 17 Comstock Bog

Comstock Bog is a State Natural Area. You can access a parking area on the east side of Highway 22 about six miles north of Montello or go to the other side of the bog to an access on Edgewood Road one mile north of County Road J. Here are the two GPS points.

43.872255 - 89.278494 and 43.879142 - 89.302685

From this second entrance, you walk into a glaciated ridge that borders the east side of the bog.

Comstock bog is an excellent place to view a landscape that has changed little since the Muirs and other early settlers moved here. Stand in the parking area off Highway 22 and imagine early explorers or surveyors who made their way across this floating bog. In the distance you will see Tamarack trees, the only conifer that loses its needles in the fall. They turn bright gold in the autumn and a chartreuse green in the spring as their needles start growing again.

The land area that is now known as the State of Wisconsin was surveyed by the federal government between 1833 and 1866. The survey was done in order to divide the vast public domain into salable-sized lots that could be sold, or otherwise divested, to raise funds for the federal government and to encourage settlement. The work was done using the Public Land Survey System (PLSS), which divides land into six-mile square townships and one-mile square sections. The area where Comstock Bog is located was surveyed in 1851. These early surveys are rich with information about the land at that time and the work of these hardy early surveyors was met with challenge after challenge.

The system of measurement used in the original public land survey is based on the statute mile. It is subdivided into chains and links, not feet and inches. A measuring chain is 66 feet long and there are 80 chains in a mile. Each chain is composed of 100 links each of which are 7.92 inches in length. Because there are 100 links in a chain, the measurement can be expressed as a decimal, i.e. 12.59 chains is equal to 12 chains and 59 links. To convert measurements from chains to feet, simply multiply the number of chains by 66, i.e. 12.59 chains x 66 (feet per chain) = 830.94 feet. Whenever the surveyors encountered a lake or river of significant size along the section lines, they were to set a post at the shoreline. Once these meander posts were set on all the section lines that intersected the lake or river, the shoreline was surveyed by connecting the meander corners by tangential lines. At the end of township's survey, the surveyors wrote a general description of what they had observed during the survey of the township.

In 1851, William P. Huntington surveyed the Township wherein Comstock Bog lies. He wrote, “The Township is much cut up by marshes and swamps. There are, however, many good farms begun and more claims may yet be made that shall well reward the enterprising pioneers….. There is a considerable proportion of soft, quaking dangerous marsh. This sort of marsh seems to be an abyss of soft mud, overgrown with turf which is easily penetrated and which has been sounded with poles to the depth of 12 and 15 feet without reaching hard bottom."