History of Soil Studies
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The word “Wisconsin” originates from the name given to the Wisconsin River by one of the Algonquin -speaking American Indian groups living in the region at the time of European contact (Wisconsin Historical Society 2014). The Algonquin word for Wisconsin and its original meaning have grown obscure. Interpretations vary, but most implicate the river and the red sandstone that lines its banks. One leading theory is that the name originated from the Miami word Meskonsing, meaning “it lies red,” a reference to the setting of the Wisconsin River as it flows through the reddish sandstone of the Wisconsin Dells (Fig. 2.1). French explorer Jacques Marquette was the first European to reach the Wisconsin River, arriving in 1673, and calling the River Meskousing in his journal. This spelling was later changed to Ouisconsin by other French explorers, and over time this became the French name for both the Wisconsin River and the surrounding lands. English speakers changed the spelling to its current form when they began to arrive during the early nineteenth century. The current spelling was made official by the legislature of Wisconsin Territory in 1845.