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The Chippewa: Biography of a Wisconsin Waterway was inspired by August Derleth's seminal book The Wisconsin, Richard D. Cornell traveled the Chippewa River from its two sources south of Ashland to where it joins the Mississippi. Over several decades he returned time and again in his red canoe to immerse himself in the stories of the Chippewa River and document its valley, from the Ojibwe and early fur traders and lumbermen to the varied and hopeful communities of today.
Richard D. Cornell wrote the 2006 Wisconsin Magazine of History article "Knights of the Spike-soled Shoe: Lumbering on the Chippewa," and co-wrote with Jerry Poling the news feature "Greats of the Gridiron," about the undefeated 1906 Eau Claire High School football team. He also self-published the memoir Finding My Father, which about his quest to learn about his father who was killed in World War II when Rich was thirteen months old.