Blackhawk Memorial Park (Bloody Lake)
Operated by Lafayette County, 120-acre Blackhawk Memorial County Park offers primitive camping sites, hiking trails, canoeing opportunities, and area fishing. Site of the annual Bloody Lake Rendezvous, this unique park may be the best-kept secret in the state. If you approach Blackhawk Memorial along Highway 81 east of Argyle, you won't even find a sign for the park. Even on summer weekends you can find a good campsite here, and just about all the campsites are worthy choices, located either along the Pecatonica River (photo) or its backwaters.
The park has two boat landings, a handicapped-accessible pier, baseball field, portable toilets, a picnic area with shelter, and a playground.
Directions: The park is located on County Highway Y about six miles south of Argyle and just north of the village of Woodford.
Camping: Drinking water is available near the park entrance, and there are nine portable toilets placed in convenient locations throughout the park. This is one of those rare campgrounds where there are really no bad campsites; some are just a little better than others. The gently flowing waters of the Pecatonica River give the campground its charm. It's hard to visualize a battle having ever taken place near the placid waters. Surely anyone who died here must be resting in peace.
The entrance road is near a picnic area and shelter on Horseshoe Lake (photo: the entrance area is to the right across the lake). The self-registration post, water spigot, and firewood shed are here. Just south of the entrance road is short side road that leads to the handicapped-accessible fishing pier and campsite. The first six sites are located near the Dead River and get more traffic going by because of their location near intersections of roads. These sites have the longest walk to one of the portable toilets. Sites 5 and 6 are close together in a woods. Sites 7-16 are all located along the road that passes through an isthmus between Bloody Lake and Horseshoe Lake. Medium-sized shady sites along Bloody Lake are numbers 7, 8, 11, 12, and 14.
Site 14 (photo) is typical of these, near the monument to the battle of Bloody Lake (photo of Bloody Lake near the Monument). The best sites in this section are
site 15 (photo) and its neighbor, site 16 (photo) two excellent campsites, both grassy with shady spots under trees and large sunny areas, located on a patch of shoreline that juts out into Horseshoe Lake. The shelter and picnic area are visible across the lake. Site 20, at the south end of Bloody Lake, is medium-sized, open and sunny (view of Bloody Lake behind site 20), similar to sites 17-19. There is a short dirt road next to site 17 that leads to a rocky spot along the river where people often fish. Sites 21-24 are nice medium-sized, partially-sunny sites along the Pecatonica River near the south boat launch (photo: that's site 24 to the left). Site 29 is medium-sized and open, across the road from the boat launch and near the portable toilet. Sites 26-28 are medium-sized riverside sites. Site 27 (photo) is located behind site 26 (photo: note the path to site 27), and these two would make a great double-site for two groups. Site 28 is medium-sized and shady near the river.
Sites 30-34 are located at the end of the campground where the road loops around between the Pecatonica River and Bloody Lake. Sites 30 and 31 are large shady sites on the river where you can fish and wade off the shore. Site 32 is large, shady and private near the river. Site 33 (view toward the Monument area across the lake) is a medium-sized, sunny site along the road and isolated from the other campsites, with a path through the trees to site 34, another medium-sized, open sunny site on Bloody Lake. Site 35 (photo) is a medium-sized, partially shaded site separated from the lake by a bank of trees. At the north end of the campground is a road that leads to sites 36-38 near the north boat launch. These sites are separated from the Dead River by a bank of shady trees and have a large sunny field in front of them. This section would be perfect for a group who want to camp together by themselves.
Map of Blackhawk Memorial Park and Campsites
The Battle of Bloody Lake: The "Battle of Bloody Lake," occurred in the late morning of June 16 1832. After ambushing and killing several men at Spafford's Field on June 14, and murdering Henry Apfel (Apple) during the early morning hours of June 16, a seventeen man Kickapoo war-party sought to evade pursuit by heading east from the vicinity of Hamilton's Diggings (present day Wiota, Wisconsin).
On the morning of June 16, Col. Henry Dodge led a party of mounted militia volunteers from Forts Jackson, Defiance and Hamilton in pursuit of the war-party. The militiamen finally tracked the Kickapoo to a spot near a large bend in the Pecatonica River. There, the warriors used the embankment of a pond as a makeshift breastwork.
Leaving several mounted men as lookouts and horseholders, Dodge charged the Kickapoo with twenty soldiers. The Kickapoo fired a single volley, which mortally wounded two men and seriously wounded a third. Dodge's volunteers immediately rushed the Kickapoo before they could reload. Using rifles, pistols, clubbed muskets, and bayonets in a stand-up hand-to-hand fight, the militiamen killed the entire war-party. A fourth volunteer fell wounded in this final segment of the action.
The fight, from the initial Kickapoo volley to the last militia pistol shots, lasted only a few minutes at most, but emerged as the first real American success against Black Hawk's band. The already sizable reputation of Henry Dodge soared. Dodge and his militia volunteers would play a pivotal role in General Henry Atkinson's continuing campaign to bring Black Hawk and his band to bay.
The battle site at Bloody Lake is now preserved as part of Black Hawk Memorial Park, located north of the hamlet of Woodford, in Lafayette County, Wisconsin. Originally part of the Lafayette County parks system, the site is now maintained by the Lafayette County Sportsmen Alliance, along with the Yellowstone Flint and Cap Club and a support group, the "Friends of Woodford Park." Visitors to the park may view the commemorative concrete marker dedicated in 1922 by the Shullsburg Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the people of the town of Wiota.
Argyle Boat Launch:
The village operates a small park and boat landing on the East Branch of the Pecatonica River off Highway 81 just west of the bridge. This launch affords many opportunities for fishing and canoeing north of Argyle. Many area residents enjoy canoeing from "Thunder Bridge" north of Argyle, past the beautiful Pine covered rocky bluffs along the winding Pecatonica River to Argyle. The 2-3 hour downstream journey is well worth the effort to see the abundance of wildlife that lives at rivers edge.
Yellowstone Lake State Park: (See the Review)
Yellowstone Lake State Park is located about eight miles northwest of Argyle. It can be reached by taking either County Highway G and turning north on South Lake Road or by taking County Highway N and turning west on Lake Road.
Yellowstone Lake was created between 1949 and 1954 by damming the Yellowstone River. The 450-acre lake is Southwestern Wisconsin's only sizable body of water and is surrounded by rolling hills typical of this area of the state.
In addition to the lake, there are 850 acres in the state park on the northern shore of the lake. The state also owns and manages an adjoining 3,700-acre wildlife area.
Facilities available at the park include 130 individual campsites, group camping for about 200 people, hiking and cross-country skiing trails, snowmobile trails, swimming area, and picnic areas. Fishing is one of the most popular activities in the park, including ice fishing.
Other State Parks in the area:
New Glarus Woods State Park -----
Browntown-Cadiz Springs State Park
Blue Mounds State Park ------------
Governor Dodge State Park
View of a Farm across the Pecatonica River from Site 27