U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service logo A Unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System
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National Wildlife Refuge

redhead duck on water
W4279 Headquarters Road
Mayville, WI   53050
E-mail: horicon@fws.gov
Phone Number: 920-387-2658
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
The refuge supports the largest number of nesting redhead ducks in the eastern United States.
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The first people to use the marsh were Native Americans. Later, the marsh attracted European settlers as well. In the 1800s, logging opened the uplands for farming. In 1846, a new settlement called Hubbard's Rapids, at the south end of the marsh, was renamed Horicon, meaning pure, clean water. That same year, settlers built a dam on the Rock River in Horicon that changed the marsh into the largest artificial lake in the world at the time, Horicon Lake. People used the lake to float logs and move farm products by steamboat. Water from the dam also powered a saw mill and a grist mill.

After the dam was removed in 1869 by a court order, the lake reverted to a marsh once again. Over the next 30 years, people used Horicon Marsh for unregulated recreational and commercial hunting. Attempts to convert it to farmland about 100 years ago ultimately failed because the soil was simply too wet and peaty. Following a 20-year struggle by conservationists, especially the Isaak Walton League, Congress established the Horicon National Wildlife Refuge on May 9, 1941, for the protection and conservation of migratory birds.

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