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Wisconsin Dells 2008-Where is Lake Delton?

Updated on November 7, 2014
The newly formed gap between Lake Delton and the Wisconsin River is to the left of this house whose foundation was undermined and collapsed
The newly formed gap between Lake Delton and the Wisconsin River is to the left of this house whose foundation was undermined and collapsed

Lake Delton Emptied into the Wisconsin River

June 9, 2008-There had been several days of torrential rain and at 2 AM after 12" had fallen and Lake Delton was swelling residents started sand bagging. At 10 AM water began overflowing County Highway A, on the North side of Lake Delton and about 1/4 mile from the Dam. As the water flowed over County highway A and downhill into the Wisconsin River it eroded a 400 ft portion of that highway. This created a channel that drained Lake Delton in an uncontrollable torrent into the Wisconsin River 40 feet below. The 267 acre Lake Delton emptied in 2 hours. Three homes were washed away. Another two homes were destroyed when their foundations were undermined.

Source

We Kept our Reservations at Sunset Bay Resort

We were scheduled to arrive at The Wisconsin Dells three days later. After spending over a decade of summers in the Dells, this would be our first stay at The Sunsetbay Resort on the shores of Lake Delton. What a quandry! After watching the horrific videos, calling the resort to make sure they would still be open and much discussion among ourselves we decided to keep the reservations and witness the aftermath of this devastating but historic event. Getting there was difficult. It was pouring so hard we had to pull over onto the shoulder when it became impossible to see where we were going. There was flooding everywhere and they ended up closing a major highway heading into the Dells. Thankfully we were already past that point but my other kids all had to navigate the detours and it took them twice as long to reach the resort. Such was their determination to be part of our summer tradition.

Looking across Lake Delton. Rainwater pools and flow from Dell Creek
Looking across Lake Delton. Rainwater pools and flow from Dell Creek | Source

Witnessing History

The next day was sunny and warm. Walking around what was the former lake shore was surreal. We quickly realized we couldn't venture far from the edge. You would take a step and suddenly feel that sinking sensation. It was pretty scary...like stepping into quick sand. The harder you tried to get out the further you would sink.Thankfully we were there to help each other out. We heard a story about a woman who was in up to her thighs and had to be rescued by a fireman who stretched a ladder across the lake bed for her to grab onto so he could drag her out.

Boats sitting on the bottom of what was Lake Delton
Boats sitting on the bottom of what was Lake Delton | Source
The Sunsetbay Resort pier
The Sunsetbay Resort pier | Source
 The people who lost their homes in this flood did not have flood insurance. They were told they wouldn't need it...
The people who lost their homes in this flood did not have flood insurance. They were told they wouldn't need it... | Source
The Lake Delton Dam is sand bagged and held during the flood.
The Lake Delton Dam is sand bagged and held during the flood. | Source

"Clean the Bottom of Lake Delton" Day

We found all sorts of lost treasures on the lake bed. There were cell phones and jewelry, fishing poles and anchors. There were tires, cans and bottles...years of garbage piled up on the bottom of that lake. We were there for "Clean the Bottom of the Lake" day when over 250 volunteers filled dumpsters with refuse.

"Clean the Bottom of the Lake" Day
"Clean the Bottom of the Lake" Day | Source

Watch this amazing Time Lapse Video of the return of Lake Delton.

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    • Cmkrakora profile image

      Cmkrakora 6 years ago from Milwaukee, WI

      Crazy pics! But that was an awesome thing to experience.

    • pedrn44 profile image
      Author

      pedrn44 6 years ago from New Berlin Wisconsin

      No kidding! It's nice to have the lake back:)

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