ANTIGO - In one way, Antigo Silt Loam isn't all that special.
"The reason the Antigo Silt Loam soil was selected wasn't that it represented the whole state, or exists throughout the whole state, or that it was the most productive," said Matt Ruark, an associate professor in the Soil Science department at UW-Madison.
But in 1983, it was selected as the official Wisconsin state soil for a special reason.
"It was the most uniquely 'Wisconsin,'" Ruark said.
Antigo Silt Loam covers 300,000 acres of ground in the Badger State, including much of Langlade County.
Ruark explained that one of his predecessors at UW-Madison, professor Francis Hole, successfully pushed the Legislature to make it the state soil in 1983.
"He was really the champion for getting the Antigo Silt Loam recognized as the official state soil," Ruark said.
Before he died in 2002, Hole spoke about that recognition.
"Before the Antigo Silt Loam was so declared, the badger, which is the official state animal in Wisconsin, had no official soil to dig in, or to sleep in," Hole said.
Antigo Silt Loam can claim its place as the official state soil. But it can also claim even more. Thanks to Hole, it has a logo and even a song to its name.
"[Hole] was a small, extremely energetic, very smart man who just enjoyed life," said UW-Madison Soil Science Emeritus Professor Jerry Tyler. He taught alongside Hole at the university for years.
Antigo Silt Loam is made of layers of organic matter, silt, and gravel.
"It's really good for potato, hay production, some grains," Ruark said.
Even if those features don't excite you, they excited Francis Hole enough to spark his creativity, helping him accomplish a goal in the soil science field.
"We want to put soils on people's minds," Ruark said.
A catchy tune goes a long way.
Click the links below to hear the Antigo Silt Loam song, and to learn more about Francis Hole.
Francis D. Hole Memorial Webpage
Antigo Silt Loam song