‘In Praise of Old Ice’: Tomahawk’s appearance on ‘Dateline America’
Courtesy of the Tomahawk Area Historical Society
TOMAHAWK – Decades ago, Charles Kuralt featured a report from Tomahawk on “Dateline America.” In the report, called “In Praise of Old Ice,” Kuralt told of the beauty of northern Wisconsin and thanked a glacier 10,000 years ago for bringing it.
Although the Tomahawk Area Historical Society is unsure of the exact year when the report was broadcasted over the 270-station CBS Radio Network, the date was Oct. 30, likely sometime in the 1970s or 1980s.
Following is the script of Kuralt’s report, provided by the Historical Society:
“I’m Charles Kuralt, reporting on the CBS Radio Network.
“In Praise of Old Ice: A report from Wisconsin.
“Tomahawk, Wis. The oaks and birches and aspens are shedding their last leaves, and the men and boys are putting on their mackinaws. It’s getting cold in the Wisconsin North Country. Ah, but once it was colder, and I don’t mean last winter. It is not often that you get to publicly give thanks for something that happened 10,000 years ago. So when a nippy autumn afternoon in northern Wisconsin gives you the opportunity, you seize it.
“Ten thousand years ago, all this was under ice, the ice of the last great glaciers, which with their immense weight bulldozed these hundreds of thousands of kettle holes and gashes in the bedrock that were to become the lakes and streams of Wisconsin. And then the glacier, melting and retreating away to the north, thoughtfully filled the holes and gashes with blue water.
“Ten thousand years later, you can’t travel half-a-mile toward Lake Superior without catching your breath at the beauty of a glassy blue lake reflecting the white birches on shore, or of a stream or waterfall or rushing rapids. The glacier did all this.
“If there hadn’t been an ice age, northern Wisconsin would be as flat as Florida. And it was not only these hills and shining waters the great mass of ice left behind 10,000 years ago – it was also polished granite islands and the cliffs and gorges, and the thin crust of soil that was so perfect a place for the evergreen forests to live. And in the forest, the beavers and the bears and the white-tailed deer, and on the waters, the wood ducks and the Canadian geese, and in the waters, the bright brook trout.
“And in time came the Chippewa, who also found this a perfect place, and in time, the French, and in time, our ancestors, and in time, you and me. There are roads across the glacial moraine now and settlements beside the glacial lakes. Nobody thinks to thank the glacier for creating such incredible beauty upon the earth except the scientists, who gave a name to the last ice age, one that ended 10,000 years ago.
“They named it Wisconsin.”
Note from the Historical Society: Tomahawk has its own reminder of the glacier. Bradley Park is situated on an esker, a narrow ridge of sand or gravel, formed by the glacier. The esker continues for quite a distance and is crossed on Highway 51 south. A city subdivision is known as Esker Heights.