Saturday, April 16, 2016

Lake Monona

My brief search for beaches turned up this small pocket in Olin Park, on Lake Monona southwest of downtown Madison. There's a nice view back at the State Capitol and Monona Terrace (hshipman).


I don't know enough about these midwestern lakes to understand much about the formation of beaches and their distribution. Things that are always important are water levels (I think this lake is controlled pretty tightly), along with wind and wave conditions, particularly during larger storms. But there are also local factors like ice cover in the winter, the geology of the shoreline, and the original riparian forest. The history of a site is also critical - sometimes fill has been placed to extend the shoreline farther out into the lake. Small beaches are often created from scratch or are nourished. This one has formed in a small cove bracketed by riprapped shorelines on both sides.

Although probably not relevant to the beach itself, this area was originally the site of many hundreds of native american mounds in various sizes and shapes. It's so easy to overlook the prehistory of these places - particularly where so much of it has been obliterated. And in the midwest, we often forget that the aboriginal cultures first encountered by Europeans were in themselves hugely transformed from the extensive Mississippian Culture that existed hundreds of years earlier.

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