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How we got our start.

The association began informally in the mid 1980's with several get togethers on the front lawn of the Skwira Lodge when Mike and Karen Skwira, Jim and Alice Kissinger, Alberta Dunlap, Jane and Renner Johnston, Ellen Frazer, Roy and Kathy Olson and a few others began discussing ways for the lakeshore owners to become better stewards of the lake. The association became a non-profit in the early 1990s after Jim Kissinger and Frank Frazer began looking into ways for the association to acquire and preserve Stout Island, and further the efforts of the association in lake preservation. The early friends, officers and current members of the association through their time, financial resources and experience have made Little Sissabagama one of Wisconsin's finest examples of a north woods lake. 


Our association is made up of many realistic and dedicated environmental stewards. The management of the lake, lakeshore and species that inhabit the lake are constantly on the minds of those that live here. We believe strongly in the Native American saying “We do not inherit this land from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children” and we are here to be good steward of this lake and all it holds. All visitors to Little Sissabagama are encouraged to participate in the protection of the lake for future generations and are asked to take only memories and pictures leaving only footprints.  

A brief history

Various Native American tribes first inhabited the area known as Wisconsin. The Chippewa (a.k.a. Ojibwe), Menominee, Oneida, Potawatomi and Winnebago tribes lived in the area until the late 1800's at that point many of the tribe move away or were relocated. 


Little Sissabagama and the surrounding area was home to various Native American tribes over the years. The abundant wildlife and dense giant white pine forests made the area both an attractive place for Native Americans to live and flourish. Trappers and French explores traded goods for furs with the Native Americans during the centuries when no roads existed and travel was exclusively by water. 


The Logging Era

It is believed that a survey from 1813 indicates a camp was located on Big Island (Frank Stout Wilderness Preserve). The area remained a wilderness with only footpaths and few inhabitants until around 1880 when the US Government and Wisconsin Government began granting land to companies like the Wisconsin Railroad Farm Mortgage Company for development. This land was later sold around the late 1800's to logging companies such as Rice Lake Logging and Stout Lumber and still later sold again to smaller independent loggers that took the downfall timber. The next to own the land were the immigrant farmers who often failed and left. The mineral rights for much of the land around the lake was sold and gifted to Cornell University, which still holds title to it. 


Logging ended by 1910 when it was said, "no trees stood between Little Siss and Stone Lake or Birchwood". Canals were cut between each of the area lakes to Rice Lake to float the giant pines to the mills. The canals can still be seen near Blueberry Bay on Little Siss' northeast end along with earthen dams, also visible by Slim Lake. 

Hiking the islands

The lake offers a variety of islands that are excellent for roaming and hiking. The Frank Stout Wilderness Preserve offers 40 acres of old growth forest and some unique flora. Fires are not permitted and overnight sleeping is only available on the state owned islands.

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