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No. 34: Jul-Aug 1984

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Ancient Wisconsin Astronomers

Prof. James Scherz claims to have discovered an ancient Indian calendar site in a marshy region near Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin. Scherz was led to the site by aerial photographs taken during a wetlands mapping program. Strange "islands" of higher land seen within the bog were found, upon terrestrial inspection, to be unusually steep, possibly artificial. Some were round, some four-sided; others were shaped like a fish, a rabbit, and a snake. [Wisconsin has many similar "effigy mounds" elsewhere.] Causeways connect some of these so-called islands.

The most interesting features of the islands, however, are prominent rocks and rock cairns. Braving hordes of mosquitoes and ticks, Scherz and an assistant mapped the islands, cairns, and rocks to determine if any astronomical alignments existed. Sure enough, the solstices and equinoxes were predictable from some of the alignments. Another alignment provided the site's latitude.

The exploration of this site is incomplete, and further information is expected. Quite possibly, the site is associated with the famous prehistoric coppermining activities around Lake Superior.

(Murn, Thomas J.; "Portage County Cairns: Wisconsin's Rockhenge," NEARA Journal, 18:50, 1984. Originally published in Wisconsin Natural Resources, vol. 7, no. 2. NEARA = New England Antiquities Research Association.)

Reference. Considerable detail on the prehistoric Lake Superior copper mining and the Wisconsin effigy mounds can be found in our Handbook: Ancient Man. For information on this book, visit: here.

Wisconsin calendar site, showing some of the cairn-rock alignments. Wisconsin calendar site, showing some of the cairn-rock alignments. The stippled islands are surrounded by marsh.

From Science Frontiers #34, JUL-AUG 1984. 1984-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987