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Wisconsin Earth Symbols

Wisconsin Earth SymbolsLeft to right: Galena (lead), red granite, and the trilobite Calymene clavicula, which is closely related to Wisconsin’s state fossil. (License)

Early Wisconsin miners were called badgers because they spent so much time digging in the earth. Most of them were searching for galena (lead), which is now Wisconsin’s official state mineral.

Wisconsin’s state rock, red granite, takes us back even farther in time. In fact, some believe Wisconsin takes its name from a Native American word that describes something reddish. The name is thought to refer to the Wisconsin Dells, where the Wisconsin River flows through spectacular reddish sandstone bluffs. Wisconsin is also known for its red granite quarries.

Wisconsin: Name Origin

Fossil ˆ

Wisconsin also has a state fossil. It is a trilobite with the scientific name Calymene celebra. It lived during the Silurian Period, more than 400 million years ago. However, the sandstone that forms the Wisconsin Dells is even older.

While trilobites vanished long ago, Wisconsin’s state soil, Antigo silt loam, is a living symbol. One could argue that it’s the most important of Wisconsin’s symbols. Without soil, there would be no corn, badgers or dairy cows.

Soil ˆ

The legendary pedologist (soil scientist) Francis Hole was instrumental in the designtion of Antigo Silt Loam as Wisconsin’s state soil.

“Soil is the hidden, secret friend, which is the root domain of lively darkness and silence.” — Francis D. Hole

A relatively young soil, Antigo Silt Loam evolved out of the debris left by the glaciers that sprawled across the Midwest during the Ice Age. Corn, small grains, hay, potatoes, and snap beans are among the crops grown on this legendary soil today.

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