Lafayette County Highpoint Trip Report
Platte Mounds (1,440+ ft)
Date: January 13, 2007
Author: John Hasch
While driving on US Highway 151 northeast of Platteville, I noticed a large
letter "M" on a mountainside north of the road. It was obviously large because
the mound was very far away. A short time later, I decided to get off at the
next exit that was for the city of Belmont. I stopped to get some gas and I
asked about the "M". I was told the mound was actually a mere 5 minutes away,
and the attendant gave me directions. He told me itís really spectacular
because once a year, the letter is set on fire. I decided to take this short
detour since I was traveling on a peaking-bagging trip anyway.
At the mountain, I parked in a small lot at the base of the "M".
There were several stairs that climbed beside the letter. I saw a plaque that described
this as the "largest letter in the world". The letter was designed and put in
place by a work team led by the engineering department of the nearby
University of Wisconsin at Platteville.
The letter was a tribute to the MINING that plays such a large
role in the local area economy.
The steps alongside the letter climbed to a couple different viewing platforms.
Each step was marked by a plaque that referred to the step number and the person or
group that had sponsored the step. I noted that about 30 of the 266 steps to
the top were still available. I climbed the steps and ascended a brief height
more to reach the top of the mound. A radio tower was at the summit and it was
fenced in. Since the high ground appeared to be inside the fence, I walked
around the perimeter. I stopped to take an altimeter reading on the north side
that appeared to be on the same level as the inside.
The view from the top was clear and interesting. Although this area of
Wisconsin has numerous rolling hills, this mound was clearly the highest point
for miles around. The only exception was Belmont Mound to the east about
7 miles away. Like the hill I was on, Belmont Mound stood out compared to the
surrounding region. I took several pictures including the dairy farm to the southwest.
Cows there were mooing constantly while I was on the mound.
I learned after the trip that the mound I was on had an elevation of about 1430
feet per the topo maps. I also found that I had not visited the real summit.
The mound was actually adjoined by another mound immediately north of where I stood,
and its peak area was 1,440 feet. Looking back, I am going to claim a
"bagging" since I was only 10 feet lower and did not realize the other area existed.
My calculations showed a trip of about 400 steps from the car to the summit with
a rise of about 182 feet. The car's elevation was extrapolated to be 1,248 feet.