MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Though this summer's rains have caused extensive flooding in parts of Wisconsin, flooding has always been a part of life in the state because of its many rivers and lakes.
French settlers in Prairie du Chien made one of the first written records of flooding in the state in 1785, calling it "the year of great waters," Wisconsin Public Radio reported.
Several towns along the Mississippi River were completely submerged.
It was the first of at least 40 major floods in that area.
Devastating flooding in 1880 halted railroad service in La Crosse when the Black and Mississippi rivers overflowed their banks. Wolf River's rising level swept away bridges in Keshena, Belle Plaine and Shiocton.
The Fox Valley also saw its worst flooding in 1880. The Lewiston levee on the Wisconsin River broke, flooding the river and leaving Portage completely surrounded by water.
One of the state's most disastrous floods was in 1884 in Chippewa Valley. The area received 14 inches of rain in 24 hours, and floodwaters swept away more than 400 million feet of logs from lumber yards, which knocked down everything in their path. At least 150 houses and 19 bridges in Eau Claire were washed away.