By Barbara Gonzalez, Jasmine Sola and Mara Jezior

Videography by Michelle Gonzalez

The Dells of the Wisconsin River are a collection of striking sandstone rocks, shaped by the Wisconsin Glacial Episode thousands of years ago. Here, the Wisconsin River runs through a town once known as Kilbourn, Wisconsin, which was later renamed Wisconsin Dells to better attract tourists.

Today, the Kilbourn Dam divides the scenic area into two regions: the Upper and Lower Dells. The Upper Dells, of greater scenic majesty, play host to the Dells Boat Tours and are protected by multiple organizations, including the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the Stewards of the Dells. The Lower Dells, which also include privately owned portions, are home to the Original Wisconsin Ducks Tours.

The Formation

In the beginning of time, there was water. Water played an essential part in the unique land features of the Dells, as well as the people who originally inhabited it.

The Draw

Then the tourists came, drawn to the abundance of rushing water and stunning rock formations the Wisconsin Dells had to offer. But as tourism boomed, visitors sought more beyond the river.

The Shift

As the water continued to flow, change came to the Wisconsin Dells in the form of water parks. Jungle-themed hotels and 200 colorful waterslides now crowd the land that once was deemed inherently sacred.

The Future

In a place where man-made attractions and natural beauty intersect, questions arise over the implications of pushing too far to attract tourists and create a paradise early excursionists would have never imagined.