Ten Views of Lake Wingra

The Madison area is known for its four lakes. But there’s a fifth, and its history, ecology and beauty are well worth a tour

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Lake Wingra in the spring

2. WINGRA’S STORY IN A SPRING

Spring Trail Pond on Nakoma Road practically tells the story of Lake Wingra by itself. Ten centuries ago, Late Woodland people sculpted effigy mounds on high ground near a large spring. In time an Indian trail passed the spring, and the Ho-Chunk established a summer village on the hill above. In the 1800s, farmers drove wagons up Verona Road to fill water barrels from the spring, Ho-Chunk families entered Madison on foot and horseback and miners headed to the lead region. Old Spring Hotel and Tavern (the building still stands across Nakoma Road) lodged early travelers. In the 1920s, the developers of Nakoma, Madison’s first automobile suburb, dammed “Gorham’s Spring” to make a picturesque pond. Frank Lloyd Wright designed the walls and steps leading to it.

Popularly known as the duck pond, this spring-fed pool never freezes. It’s part of a long natural strip between Wingra Park and Nakoma Country Club—land added to the UW Arboretum in the 1940s—that has a surprisingly remote feel.

In the 1800s, farmers drove wagons up Verona Road to fill water barrels from the spring, Ho-Chunk families entered Madison on foot and horseback, and miners headed to the lead region.
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