Beaver Dam – Make Yourself at Home


Beaver Dam sign

Beaver Dam is a city of 16,000 in Dodge County with a lot of heart.  It was founded in 1841, Thomas Mackie observed a large number of beavers in the area, placing a fair amount of dams in what is now the Beaver River.

The beaver is still a large part of the culture of the city, as we discovered upon arrival.  We arrived by 7:30 AM, I noticed a wood beaver in a costume in someone’s yard! We stopped to take a picture and the owner came out of the house to greet us. His name is Gene Kirschbaum. He has lived in Beaver Dam since 2011. The beaver was a former tree, very large and posing a danger to the house.  After getting most of the tree cut down, he commissioned a wood-carver to make the beaver.  Over the last few years,  the beaver and costumes has become a big part of Beaver Dam, people purposely go by the beaver just to see the latest costume he is sporting!  His beaver is famous, this year a calendar was made with a different costume for each month. It is a fundraiser for the Dodge County Parenting Project. Gene gave us a calendar and took our picture with the Beav, thanks!

FFA BeaverThe Beav and us

Close by is Wayland Academy, a boarding school of approximately 200 students. These are historic buildings that have stood the test of time and still being used to educate high school students.

Wayland HallWayland Hall sign

Frank Lloyd Wright’s presence is also felt here.  We visited the Arnold Jackson House on the outskirts of town, now a bed and breakfast.

Arnold Jackson House signAndrew Jackson House back

Downtown, there is much to see.   We stopped by the Chamber of Commerce. It was Sunday and they were not open by we took our picture with their beaver too!

Beaver Dam Chamber of Commerce

Beaver Dam Water TowerBeaver Dam Chamber Beaver

The Dodge County Historical Museum is a beautiful stone building, kitty-corner to the Chamber.

Dodge County Historical Museum

The view downtown, looking East towards Wayland..

Downtown Beaver Dam


Right next to this red building on our left is a marker dedicated to  Frederick Douglass, who came to speak in Beaver Dam on October 20, 1856.

Frederick Douglass marker

This is the 6th building down from this view.   The site is historically important, not as much the bank but the log cabin that was here first. It is the equivalent to the Peck Cabin in Madison. Beaver Dam’s first Caucasian girl was born on this site in 1842.

138 Front Street in Beaver Dam


Jacob Brower Cabin site plaque

The Beaver River flows through town, and the dam still exists. It provided power once to a Cotton Mill, now re-purposed as Beaver Dam Lake Historic Lofts.

Beaver Dam Lake Historic Lofts

On the other side of the dam footbridge is Cotton Mill Park.

Dam in Beaver Dam


Cotton Mill ParkThis turbine is from the former mill.

Cotton Turbine sign

This isn’t the only historically significant park in Beaver Dam, Swan Park was central to the city’s early history.  A spring flows here that the Winnebago (Ho-Chunk) Indians believed had medicinal properties. The Pavillion is the only surviving structure of the resort that was once here.

Swan Park in Beaver Dam


Vita Spring Pavillion marker

Beaver Dam has done well re-purposing historic buildings to provide housing for it’s citizens. The former cotton Mill is the first example.  The 2nd example is the former Shoe Factory, now a large apartment building with 50 units.

Shoe Factory Apartments

The 3rd example we saw was the former Roger’s Hotel, now an called The Rogers. It goes back to 1928.  The building was also in the 2009 movie, Public Enemies as the Hotel Congress.


The Rogers

Speaking of entertainment, the Beaver Dam Area Community Theater is a beautiful former church, we attended a performance there in 2003.

Beaver Dam Community Theater

A beautiful former church is now a venue for weddings or other events in the community, the Chapel of the Archangels.

Chapel of the Archangels in Beaver Dam

Our first visit in Beaver Dam 11 years ago we ate at Ming’s Garden Buffet downtown for Chinese buffet.  It was great there, and they are still open!

2-23 245

This time though, we went to another popular restaurant, Walker’s Restaurant & Bakery and Coffee Shop.  They have been here for 42 years and are quite busy! The food was fantastic! Al had a roast beef dinner, I had fish and chips. For dessert, we shared an Elephant Ear Sundae!  Delicious food, we plan on returning.

Walker's in Beaver Dam


Elephant Ear Sundae at Walkers


We had a lot of fun here and will come back again in the summer.  Make yourself at home in Beaver Dam!

Beaver Dam on State pic



5 thoughts on “Beaver Dam – Make Yourself at Home

  1. Wow – and that is in the winter! You didn’t even touch on the Beautiful Beaver Dam Lake. Hopefully return between Memorial and Labor Day and be sure to see a Beaverland Mustskis Water Ski Show team perform at Tahoe Park! Thanks for visiting!


  2. Pingback: Palmyra – The Heartbeat of the Kettle Moraine | Adventures in Travel

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