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As this munificent grant to the State was to be applied in such manner as its Legislature should determine, it became a question, whether the construction of these roads ought to be undertaken by the State directly, under its officers and agents, or by some delegated authority. The Legislature decided that the mode of applying the grant should be through the medium of incorporated companies. The lands on the east side of the State were given to a new company, authorized and required to construct a firstclass road from Fond du Lac, the present terminus of the Chicago, St. Paul and Fond du Lac Railroad, to Superior, at the west end of Lake Superior, touching the Michigan line, and giving a connection to the Michigan roads from Marquette and Ontonagon. On the western side, they were granted to the La Crosse and Milwaukee Railroad, from Madison to Hudson, and the city of Superior. The following are extracts from an Act passed in relation to the latter Company, and approved June 3, 1856:
The People of the State of Wisconsin, represented in Senate and Assem
bly, do enact as follows :
Section 1. The La Crosse and Milwaukee Railroad Company is hereby authorized and empowered to survey, locate, construct, complete, and perpetually to have, use, maintain, and operate railroads with one or more tracks or lines, from the city of Madison, in the county of Dane, and from the village of Columbus, in the county of Columbia, on the most direct and feasible route, by the way of Portage City, to the St. Croix river or lake, between townships twenty-five and thirty-one, and from thence to the west end of Lake Superior, and to Bayfield; and shall have, possess, exercise and enjoy the same rights, privileges, functions, franchises, authority and immunities with reference to the said routes, or any railroad to be built thereon, as it now possesses or enjoys with reference to any route it is now authorized to occupy, or any railroad built or to be built thereon; and there is hereby conferred upon the La Crosse and Milwaukee Railroad Company, all the power and authority contained in
the charter of said Company, and in the acts amendatory thereof, for the purpose of carrying out the objects of this act, and of appropriating and applying the lands hereinafter in this act granted, or their proceeds, to aid in the construction of railroads by this act authorized to be built.
SECT. 2. The said roads shall be constructed on the most direct and feasible routes from Madison to Portage City, and from Columbus to Portage City, and simultaneously as nearly as practicable; and both of them shall be completed by the last day of December, A. D. 1858. And for the purpose of estimating and selecting lands granted by Congress, the city of Madison is hereby designated as the point of commencement of said road, and the whole of the railroad hereby authorized to be constructed, shall be constructed by said La Crosse and Milwaukee Railroad Company, within ten years from the third day of June, A. D. 1856.
Sect. 4. For the purpose of aiding in the construction of the railroads—which, by this act, the said La Crosse and Milwaukee Railroad Company is authorized to construct all the interest and estate, present and prospective, of this State, in, or to any, and all the lands granted by the Government of the United States to the State of Wisconsin, for the purpose of aiding in the construction of a railroad from Madison or Columbus, by way of Portage City, to the St. Croix river or lake, between townships twenty-five and thirty-one, and from thence to the west end of Lake Superior, and to Bayfield, by virtue of an Act of Congress, entitled “ An Act granting a portion of the public lands to the State of Wisconsin, to aid in the construction of railroads,” approved June 30, 1856, together with all and singular the rights, privileges and immunities conferred, or intended to be conferred, by the said Act of Congress, are hereby granted to the said La Crosse and Milwaukee Railroad Company: Provided, That the said land shall be exclusively applied in the construction of that road, for which it was granted and selected; and shall be disposed of only as the work progresses, and the same shall be applied to no other purpose whatsoever: And provided further, That the title to said lands shall vest in the said La Crosse and Milwaukee Railroad Company, &c., &c.
On the 11th day of October, 1856, the above grant was accepted, and the terms and conditions of the Act of Legislature agreed to, by the La Crosse and Milwaukee
Company, and their railroads were divided into the following divisions, for the purposes of construction, viz: The Eastern Division, embracing the road from Milwaukee to Portage City; the Western, from that point to La Crosse; the Watertown, from Milwaukee to Portage City; the Northwestern, commonly called the St. Croix and Lake Superior Railroad, from its intersection with this river or lake to the west end of Lake Superior; and the Portage Division, extending from Madison to Portage City. The stock of each of them to be separate and distinct from the others, until they are all completed, or in running order. Then it will become a part of the general stock of the Company.
The routes of these divisions were immediately surveyed. Moses M. Strong, Esq., Land Commissioner of this Company, in his Report to the Board of Directors, says :“The land which we are entitled to amounts to six sections of 640 acres for every mile between Madison and St. Croix, upon whatever route shall be adopted. This is equal to 3840 acres for every mile of road. If the route by Point Basse be adopted, the distance will be 268 miles, and the quantity of land would be 1,029,120 acres. No precise information can, of course, be had in relation to the character and description of every particular tract of land, until the lands which are to vest in the Company are determined upon; but enough is known to satisfy us that the country, upon the whole line of the road, is well adapted to settlement and cultivation; and it is believed, that not a single forty-acre tract will be found that will not be valuable for farming purposes.
All the lands will be between latitude 43° 30' and 45° 10' north, and longitude 12° 45' and 15° 55' west from Washington. In the whole of this territory, embracing an area of about 20,000 square miles, there are no mountains. And while there are quite a num
ber of small prairies, many of them are not more than three or four miles from timber. The lands selected will, of course, be the most valuable that can be procured, and every forty-acre tract will be suitable for farming purposes.'
"All the rivers and smaller streams which water the country through which the road will pass, furnish numerous water-powers and facilities for manufacturing establishments. Upon these will be erected saw and grist mills to supply the first demands of the inhabitants, and to enable them to prosecute, with profit, their agricultural and lumbering pursuits. It is also known that extensive deposits of iron ore exist in various localities between Portage City and Lake Superior.
“In forming an opinion of the value of the lands, they should be viewed with all the advantages they will possess after the road is constructed. All suitable for cultivation; none more than fifteen miles, and a large proportion within six miles of the railroad, possessing every desirable facility for fencing, fuel, water, and for cheap building materials, with all the adjacent lands purchased, owned, and occupied by an enterprising and industrious population, there can be no reason why they should not command as high prices as those in the more southern part of the State, of no greater intrinsic value, nor possessing greater railroad facilities."
From the last Report of the President of the La Crosse and Milwaukee Railroad Company, we learn that none of these lands will be offered for sale until the road shall be completed to St. Croix, and in operation a year, which will be in about four years from the present. During this period, the lands remaining to the Government along the route, will no doubt be pre-empted the whole distance, and the country generally advanced in improvements. The
1 For a description of these lands, see page 42.
land then owned by this Company will be the only land in market, and will readily command the highest prices; and being sold on a long credit, with small annual payments, will enable the better class of actual settlers to purchase at fair prices.
“Sales being made in this manner, and subject to the payment of seven per centum per annum interest, and the principal in a term of years, will readily produce the following results :
“10,000 acres, embracing village-sites, valuable water-powers, mines, &c., at $100 per acre ..........
$1,000,000 200,000 acres first-class farming-land near the line, with
smaller water-powers and other privileges, $20 per acre, 4,000,000 300,000 acres of farming-lands, &e., further from the road, $15 per acre ...........
4,500,000 350,000 acres of farming-lands, at still greater distance from the road, $10 per acre
3,500,000 123,000 acres of inferior land, $5 per acre ...................... 615,000 Total
“These lands are among the most valuable in the westeru country, and, instead of falling below, their value will exceed the above estimate. No one acquainted with the . rapid growth and improvement of the West, can entertain a doubt that they will command a price far above that we have given.
“The length of road from Madison to St. Croix is 256 miles; from Portage City to La Crosse is 101 miles ; from which deduct 36 miles, which, in common with the other, leaves 65 miles to complete the road to La Crosse; adding to this, 20 miles finished from Columbus to the intersection of the La Crosse Road, gives a total of 341 miles to be constructed in the completion of our system. Estimating the cost at $30,000 per mile, to include all