Back to School at the University of Wisconsin

Bascom Hall

Bascom Hall


The University of Wisconsin (UW) traces it’s beginning back to when Wisconsin achieved statehood in 1848. Today the UW serves all of Wisconsin and even the world with its many outreaches. Today we are exploring the Madison Campus. I didn’t have the opportunity to attend here (I went to Madison College). My grandfather Norman R. Braton was a Mechanical Engineer and Professor here at the Engineering Building for 29 years (1955-1984).  Here he is in the 1960’s.   He was also one of the co-inventor of the Shripper, it shreds rubber tires to prepare for recycling. Photo from the UW archives, 1977.    Read more of his accomplishments here and here.


Norman R. Braton 1960'sShripper 1977

Mechanical Engineering Building


The 1986 movie “Back to School” was also filmed here at the UW.

The campus unofficially begins at Library Mall. Here you will find the Memorial Library and the University Bookstore.  It has spent recent years full of construction equipment, so here it is long before that, in 2012. It is lined with food carts three seasons of the year, not winter. Also the clock streight ahead past the carts in 2013. It was a gift from the class of 1923.

Library Mall Madison 5-24 -12 Madison


Clock Tower 5-8-13 Madison


With the clock facing your back, you see the Wisconsin Historical Society, the Memorial Union and the  Red Gym/Armory (1893).

Wisconsin Historical SocietyIMG_8231

Memorial Union

Big Red Gym 5-8-13 Madison


The Memorial Union is a favorite hangout in Madison. Let’s go behind the building to the Union Terrace. It was remodeled last year, here is how it looks in summer 2014.  The colorful terrace chairs and the Lake Mendota views have delighted residents and visitors for generations.  The Brat Stand is also open in the summer to enjoy a meal by the water.  There is also a stage for outdoor concerts.

Union Terrace 2014 Madison

Brat Stand Memorial Union Madison

Memorial Union Stage Madison

The UW Hoofers base of operations for the sailing club is also here. This is an organization anyone can join for a variety of sports and hobbies.

Hoofers Sailing Club Madison

As we leave here, the majestic Science Hall in red brick towers over the union.

Science Hall Madison

Now we make a right then another left onto Observatory Drive, another place for great views.  The hill is VERY steep, I had to walk my bike. We soon come upon Muir Knoll in the Bascom Hill Historic District. John Muir was a student of UW, the Class of 1863. He became a naturalist known world-wide.  There is also a Storytellers Circle made of stone to sit and converse. Long before this in 1919, it had a ski-jump!

Muir Knoll Rock MadisonJohn Muir marker bascom Hill Historic District

Muir Knoll circle MadisonStoryteller's Circle Muir Knoll Madison

 We now are way above Lake Mendota, we now reach the famous Carillon Tower. It is now striking 11:00. It is not mechanically chimed, a man named Lyle Anderson  has played it for 31 years. He retired in August 2016 and it has stood silent since then.

Carillon Tower - Lyle Anderson plays 11:00Carillon Tower Class Presents Madison

We continue down Observatory Drive, now we are way above Lake Mendota.  From here we can see Picnic Point, a long tongue of forest reaching out into the lake.

Picnic Point From Observatory Drive

On our left is Washburn Observatory, Madison’s own portal to the stars. It’s open to the public during events like eclipses, planet viewing, meteor showers and such all year around. On the grounds to the right is a very large boulder, determined to have been left by the glacier that was once here.

Washburn Observatory in Madison

Glacier Boulder MadisonChamberlin Rock plaque Madison

 Next we are stopping to smell the daisies and more at Allen Centennial Gardens, another part of the UW Campus not far from Washburn Observatory.  On February 19, 2015 they hosted their first Luminous light show in the garden.  What a great winter evening with a beautifully lighted path and warming fires surrounded by people roasting marshmallows! They will have it again in 2016.


Allen Centennial Gardens Madison

Allen Gardens House at Luminious

Head down to Lake Mendota just down the way, you will find the Lakeshore Path beckoning you to take a walk or bike ride.  Also the Porter Boathouse looms in the distance.

Porter Boathouse

Near here on University Ave. is the UW Botanical Garden. Both are so beautiful!

UW Botanical Garden Madison

 During the football season, Camp Randall is the place to go for a Badger game. Here is the inside of the stadium after the Crazylegs Classic run/walk, last Saturday in April every year. It was remodeled about 10 years ago. We have done this event several times, a lot of fun!

Camp Randall Stadium outside

Camp Randall Stadium 2005

And the Camp Randall Arch. Camp Randall used to be a Civil War base long before it was a football stadium. Go Badgers!

Camp Randall Arch Madison

You can’t have a Badger game without “Jump Around”. This began in 1998. We have even enjoyed doing this at the Madison Mallard games 🙂

For those people interested in rocks and minerals, the Madison Geology Museum is for you! Also free admission.  The kids will love the pre-historic skeletons on display too!

Madison Geology Museum


Boaz Mastadon

After a great day of exploring, a stop at Babcock Hall Dairy Store for some of their famous ice cream is a must!  I have coming here for a ice cream treat since childhood.  You can even go to the 2nd floor and watch them make cheese and the ice cream through the large windows.

Babcock Hall dairy Store

Babcock Dairy Store insideBabcock Ice Cream

Babcock Hall Processing plant

This is only the tip of the iceberg at UW Madison. The UW welcomes everyone to come visit their campus, you don’t have to be a student to have fun here!

5 thoughts on “Back to School at the University of Wisconsin

  1. Pingback: State Street – Madison’s Great Street! | Adventures in Travel

  2. Pingback: Allen Centennial Gardens in Madison | Adventures in Travel

  3. Pingback: Chazen Museum of Art in Madison | Adventures in Travel

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