What is Pearl Island?
Brodhead possesses a unique man-made feature that is a true gem waiting to be discovered! The Mill Race bordering Brodhead's west side was dug by hand 150 years ago to power a grist mill and was converted to a power mill in the 1920s to provide electricity to the city - Brodhead became only the second city in Wisconsin to have electric power!
Because the race comes out of the Sugar River and then rejoins it, an island was formed. So why is it called "Pearl Island?" you might ask. It seems that clams that inhabited the River were not only perfect for making buttons (Brodhead used to have a button factory), but they also yielded high quality pearls. It is said that a necklace made from these pearls is among the crown jewels of the United Kingdom!
The race has been used for years by fishermen and canoeists, but was largely untended and dormant. Now it is getting a complete makeover, thanks to the vision of the City and a number of determined citizens.
On the northwest corner of Pearl Island is 160 acres that is publicly owned by the City of Brodhead. This acreage is ripe for restoration and recreation. Creatively planned restoration of the land and water will offer the beauty that tourists and residents alike look for in native Wisconsin vegetation and wildlife. By offering the opportunity to canoe, kayak, hike, fish, bike, cross-country ski, snowshoe, ice skate, and camp, the Pearl Island Recreational Corridor will provide four seasons of recreational activities!
The timing is perfect to resurrect and revitalize the Mill Race/Sugar River into the Pearl Island Recreational Corridor! Matching grants have been awarded by the DNR for the project, so every hour of volunteer labor, every donation of materials, and every piece of equipment loaned counts toward the City's contribution to the funding. The project is charging full speed ahead, and is revitalizing the area for recreation and tourism. Everyone is invited to join in and take ownership of this wonderful area!
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