News: Hatfield - Dedication of Two Bridges (28 Feb 1974)
Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon


Surnames: Teeples, Sivesind, Blomquist

----Source: Clark County Press (Neillsville, Clark Co., WI) 2/28/1974

Hatfield Dedication of Two Bridges (28 February 1974)

Dedication of two new bridges and the presentation of a marker by the Wisconsin State Historical Society, designating the longest canal still in daily use in Wisconsin: is being planned for this Spring in Hatfield.

Slated for May 26, the afternoon ceremonies will center n the bridges that span the Black River and the canal, one of them which received national acclaim for design. Both bridges are now open to traffic with final completion expected by the Memorial holiday weekend.

Miss Violet Teeples, president of the Hatfield Chamber of Commerce, announced that the state director of historic sites and markers, Ray Sivesind, is preparing a marker relating that the Hatfield canal is now the longest canal still in use in the state.

The canal stretches from the Hatfield Dam on Lake Arbutus to an electric power plant, now operated by the Northern States Power Company.

The bridge dedications will also bring honor to the small resort community located between Neillsville and Black River Falls. The federal highway administration’s annual competition for environmentally compatible bridge designs was won the year by the Hatfield span.

Two years of construction from 1907 to 1908 were needed to engineer the canal, dam, and power house for the La Crosse Water Power Company.

The La Crosse utility, no longer in operation, contracted the J. G. White Company, then the largest contractor in the United States for the project. Cost of construction was put at 1.5 million dollars.

Electricity generated from the facility was used to power electric street cars in both La Crosse and Winona, Minnesota and was also furnished to surrounding communities in Jackson and Clark Counties. At the time of its construction, the power station and flowages were considered “one of the greatest enterprises ever undertaken in Wisconsin.” Some historians still hold that the Hatfield complex ranks as one of the, if not the greatest, engineering and construction projects in the upper mid-west.

Three steam shovels and over 700 men were employed to build the Canal with the shovels running on tracks that workers had place ahead of the giant steam contraptions.

The building of the dam created lake Arbutus which was full by March of 1908 after the Spring thaw. Water from the lake was used to flood the canal and operate the hydro-generators. The facility has been in continuous operation ever since, from ownership by the la Crosse utility through the Mississippi Valley Public Service Company, to the present owners, Northern States.

Present use of the plant in generating electricity is minimal and the facility is utilized only when extreme energy demands are present. The dam, canal, and power house are now used primarily for control of the lake depth. There has been limited contact between the present owners and various government offices for sale or gift of the lake and attached land to the people of the state. Long range and official plans have not been announced as yet on the future ownership of the tourist and summer home area.

Lake arbutus was officially dedicated in July of 1908 with over 1,000 people in attendance. Several names were suggested for the lake including lake Tom Tom Thunder, titled after and Indian Chief who live near the impounded waters; and Lake Winnebagoosa. The name of Lake Arbutus was finally selected due to the Trailing Arbutus seen around the lake and area.

The lake and its power generating facilities were also hosts for many distinguished visitors in its past 65 years, including, Lt. Ragner B. Blomquist, a civil engineer representing the King of Sweden and the municipality of Stockholm, who visited the area in September of 1908, to study the water power and the method used in constructing the dams and canals.

The area now is utilized for tourism in both winter and summer with boating, and fishing being the big drawing attractions. Although the canal cannot be traversed by powered boats, small craft and canoes are allowed to troll for the many varieties of fish in the canal and backwaters.

Hatfield also gained national attention several years back when community elders planted a sign welcoming visitors to area. The sign read: “Hatfield: Population - 3,000 summer - 30 winter”. Snowmobiling has changed that.

The May dedication is being planned by the following organizations: The Hatfield Chamber of Commerce, Hatfield Sportsmen’s Association, Indianhead Association, Black River Country Association, Black River Chamber of Commerce and the Jackson County Historical Society, The Neillsville Area Chamber of Commerce has also expressed interest in the dedication as has the Clark County Historical Society.

(That sign now reads Hatfield: Population - 5,000 summer - 50 winter,” Several years later. Dmk)


News: Hatfield’s Popularity As Play Area Growing (1965)
Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon
Surnames: Gehl, Hanus, Hell, Prusa, Suchanek, Arnold, Teeples, Thompson, Pope, Bratvold, Russell

----Source: The Banner Journal (Black River Falls, Jackson Co., WI) 12/22/1965

Hatfield’s Popularity As Play Area Growing (1965)



[Hatfield Postcard Collection]

The following story about Hatfield was written by Robert C. Gehl, of the La Crosse Tribune Staff. It appeared in the Sunday December 12, 1965, issue of the Tribune with a fine picture of the Thunderbird Lodge and another of the lakeshore.


An old story goes that the village got its name from an early settler who stepped into a clearing and found a hat which had been tossed from the window of a passing train.


No one apparently knows for sure how it got its name, however, or whether anyone named Hatfield ever lived in the area. Through the years, however, the community has had an ever-growing popularity as a resort and recreation area, situated as it is in the midst of a thick pine forest on the shores of beautiful Lake Arbutus in northern Jackson County. The resort village and the lake, about seven miles long and up to one mile wide and covering 1,400 acres, are located 11 miles northeast of Black River Falls on County Trunk E off U. S. Highway 12.


Early history indicates Mormon loggers were numerous in the region and on the lake in the early 1840s, and of course, the area was part of the great logging and lumbering pine region in the second half of the19th Century and early 20th Century. The Green Bay and Western Railroad arrived in 1873.


Credited with being the “Father of Hatfield” was Joe Hanus, who first came with his father and family from Chicago in 1896 after the latter had established a homestead and started farming.

Joe Hanus left in 1906 but returned in 1909 and started a small store which he opened May 1, 1910.


The La Crosse Water Power Co. completed the dam on the Black River in 1909 to create Lake Arbutus. Part of the dam went out in the great flood of 1911 which practically wiped out the business district of Black River Falls downstream. The dam was then rebuilt. (The local dam and the power plant 2.6 miles upstream, was later owned by Mississippi Valley Public Service Co. and has been owned by Northern States Power Company since 1960).


A small wooden bridge was built over the river about 1906 and Joe Hanus built the large Arbutus Pavilion in 1921. The Hanus Store burned down in 1921, was rebuilt, then sold to Clarence Hell in 1928 and bought again by Hanus in 1931. The store was sold to Mr. and Mrs. Joe Prusa in 1925 and finally to Jerry and Helen Suchanek.


Hanus once owned practically all the land from the Hatfield Cemetery to Arnold Creek in neighboring Clark County. He sold his pavilion and other holdings after his wife died in 1947. The “father'’ of the village died October 1, 1952, in Black River Falls.


Violet Teeples is a gracious and interesting person who opened Thunderbird Museum and Gift Shop here in 1961. The museum is located in an old two-story hotel moved from its former site near the dam, and then completely remodeled and refinished.


Its owner obviously has put a tremendous amount of work into the large and well-organized museum that includes collections of antiques, artifacts, shells, dishes, paintings and a number of charming special rooms staged with life-like mannequins in pioneer day settings.


Violet's Recreation Center enterprises include a country store and tavern, dining room, gasoline service, Arbutus Pavilion (which operates as a roller-skating rink) and the three-acre Thunderbird Park.

Her father is Oscar Teeples, retired in 1957 after 45 years of service at the nearby power plant and now assists in running the cozy fireplace tavern and country store in his own warm and pleasant manner.

Helen Suchanek operates the large and modern Inwood Ballroom and adjacent tavern, dining room and store. This enterprise was expanded and modernized considerably several years ago.

Le Roy Thompson operates a tavern and trailer court, while John Pope runs a tavern and service station. Bratvold’s Palms Night Club and the Beau Vieau Tavern are in the immediate vicinity.

A resort necessarily needs cabins and cottages, and there are a number of these facilities in the village and nearby area. And you will also find a good number of charming private homes and cottages in the area surrounding the village in scenic pine tree settings.


Hatfield Sportsmen's Club has a large clubhouse with dining-room and a bow and rifle range a short way out of town. Lake Arbutus is so named after the creeping plant with its shining evergreen leaves and fragrant white or pink flowers that surround this lovely body of water.


This once favorite hunting grounds for the Winnebago Indians is noted for its deer, small game, pheasants, fishing, swimming, hiking and boating and for its natural beauty.

Mark Russell Park on the large excellent swimming beach, is supervised jointly by Jackson and Clark Counties. Camping grounds are large and numerous around the lake and these facilities are being expanded.

A side trip from Hatfield will take the visitor to a new beach and picnic and camping area on the east side of the lake. The ever-increasing numbers of vacationers make this beautiful lake and area and its facilities more popular with the passing of time.



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