Throughout The Years...
The river and the way in which people are transported along the river have changed a great deal. However, it 's always a wonderful thing to remember who started the magnificent journey & exploration of the beautiful Upper Dells of the Wisconsin River. We thank all of those great adventurers before us that found the river beautiful & then went out & tried to share it with the rest of the world. Our crew at Captain Ron's Original Dells Jet Boats strive everyday to live up to your memory.
~Ron & Maria Yohn
Leroy Gates was the first known Dells River Pilot in the Wisconsin Dells. He once wrote an ad in the Kilbourn Newspaper: "For Recreation Resort to the Dells! Where depressed spirits can be alleviated, gloom and melancholy soon be dispelled, and the mind become greatly invigorated. LEROY GATES has purchased a pleasure boat for the purpose of penetrating the numerous occult caves of the Dells." It is said that Gates wore a Prince Albert coat and patent leather shoes. He carved and painted onto a cliff in the Narrows: Leroy Gates, Dells and river pilot 1847-59.
Pictured on the right you will see a group of ladies with parasols and gentlemen with umbrellas making it's way down the Wisconsin River on one of the first Upper Dells river tours. Yes folks, the customers had to do all the rowing!
Pictured to the right you can see the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul passenger train on the Kilbourn railroad bridge around 1880. The Apollo No. 1 steamboat can be seen beneath the bridge. Various launch boats are along the Wisconsin River shore.
The first railroad bridge across the Wisconsin River at the Dells was built in 1857 by the LaCrosse and Milwaukee Railroad at a reported cost of $100,000. Byron Kilbourn's bridge was destroyed by fire in 1866. The second bridge was also made of wood. It stood until it was replaced by an iron model in 1877. Trains ran on the upper deck, while wagons & pedestrians passed below. Although built primarily to carry railroad traffic, the Dells bridge became one of the first and busiest automobile bridges in the state bringing in tourists from all over.
Many thanks to those who helped us with our "River History" page. We would like to thank...
The H.H. Bennett Studio/Wisconsin Historical Society
All photos and the majority of the information listed is in courtesy of the H.H. Bennett Studio/Wisconsin Historical Society. We highly advise all of those interested in this page to go directly to the H.H. Bennett Studio while visiting the Dells. They have a remarkable selection of river history and old-time photography. A Wisconsin Dells stop you don't want to miss!
We would also like to thank The Dells Country Historical Society for their book, "Others Before you." And Sara Rath for her wonderful book named, "Pioneer Photographer, Wisconsin's H.H. Bennett." Both copies are filled with fascinating Dells history and well-worn in our house.
~Fleet of Rowboats~
One of the first Upper Dells River Tours!
Henry Hamilton Bennett made photographic history in 1886 when he took this photo of his son Ashley leaping through the air across the top of Stand Rock. Using a rubber band-powered shutter he named, "The Snapper," Bennett became a pioneer in stop-action photography. Nineteenth century audiences were awed by the technical marvel.
H.H. Bennett's photographs, and their distribution in catalogs throughout the eastern US, made the Dells of the Wisconsin River a tourist destination known for it's scenic beauty.
The first railroad bridge across the Wisconsin
River was built in Wisconsin Dells in 1857.
Take our 1 hour tour and learn
fascinating legends & lore about the
Wisconsin Dells & the beautiful
river that runs through it!
We would like to Thank all of our wonderful return guests for their
loyalty & support throughout these adventurous 16 years!
Without you this tour would not be possible!
~Ron & Maria Yohn
Captain Ron's Original Dells Jet Boats 1550 Wisconsin Dells Pkwy, Wisconsin Dells WI 53965
1550 Wisconsin Dells Pkwy, Wisconsin Dells WI 53965
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