Yellowstone Lake State Park
When the glaciers retreated from Wisconsin more than 10,000 years ago, the hills and valleys of southwestern Wisconsin were not left with any sizable, natural lakes. There had been talk for many years in the region of the possibility of building a lake. In June 1947, an extensive survey was made of southwestern Wisconsin to search for possible areas in which artificial lakes could be made and it was determined that the Yellowstone Valley offered the greatest possibilities.
Between 1947 (when the Yellowstone site was chosen) and 1954, (when the lake began filling) much planning was done to assure that Yellowstone Lake would be one of the finest lakes in Wisconsin. Fish biologists studied the fish population in the Yellowstone River and its tributaries to determine how the fish would survive in the new lake. Rough fish in the tributaries were poisoned two weeks prior to filling the lake to protect the game fish, which would be stocked later.
A program was established to teach landowners about improved soil conservation methods in hopes to lessen or eliminate the amount of silt that would flow into the lake.
In 1949, the first properties were purchased from 15 local farmers. Excavating began in June 1953. A dike 1,500 feet long and 18 feet high and a dam 100 feet long were completed in February 1954. Yellowstone Lake became the 8,677th lake in Wisconsin on June 14, 1954, when the gates of the newly constructed dam were closed. The new lake was 2.5 miles long, 0.25 miles wide and covered about 455 acres.
The total cost of the lake was about $380,000. Federal aids from taxes on sporting guns, ammunition and fishing tackle provided 75 percent of the cost. The remaining 25 percent was paid for by the State of Wisconsin, with the money that came from the sales of hunting and fishing licenses.
The first fish to be stocked in the lake were largemouth and smallmouth bass fingerlings. A week later walleye and northern pike fingerlings were added. After bass and walleye populations were established, panfish were stocked. Beginning in April 1984 northern pike, muskie, bass, bluegill, crappie, perch, bullhead, catfish, burbot and gar were stocked, some as fry or fingerlings, others as adults in time for the open fishing season in 1985. Each year about 1,000 fish of various species are added.
When the lake was being built, it was decided that the west end would be a waterfowl refuge. Millet and smartweed were planted as food for the waterfowl. In 1968, a dike was built out into the lake. Many people find this a peaceful place to fish.