"Wisconsin-Happy Festival State", by Eve Phillips. My husband and I love to travel in the state of Wisconsin where we live and get great pictures on the way. My name is Laurie Kutil and photography has become a great passion of mine since 2010. One thing I have learned in researching each town before visiting it is that, "Every town has it's story". When I do uncover those stories by connecting with local residents, our experience becomes so much richer. In turn, sharing the stories with you brings me joy :)
We are always looking for a new way to celebrate our country’s birthday. This year, we went to The Mining and Rollo Jamison Museums to celebrate! This place has been on our bucket list for several years so we took this opportunity to go!
We arrived just before the museum opened. We did the mine tour first before it got more crowded. Join us on the tour, led by a young man named Garrison. It was sure fun! It was also much cooler inside the mine than outside and it felt good!
After the tour, we rode the mine train, join us!
There was just as much excitement going on inside of the museum building. The Music and Schoolroom had many working music machines of the late 19th and early 20th Century.
We heard a Regina music box, cylinder music boxes, mini-organs and such. Even a player piano. Hear and see them below!
Our last old-fashioned picture was in 2008, also on Broadway but not here. It was at Professor Samuel S. Porter’s Old-Time Portraits.
To treat ourselves for our 19th wedding anniversary that occurred the day before, we arranged to get a tintype picture at the famous H.H. Bennett Studio on Broadway in the Wisconsin Dells. Our Photographer was David Rambow, expert in wet-plate photography since 2001. He is also Site Director for Wisconsin Historic Sites under the umbrella of the Wisconsin State Historical Society. We booked it well in advance at the H.H. Bennett website, deposit is $50. From there you can choose your package and complete your payment during your sitting.
We arrived at 10:30 for our 11 AM sitting, ready to be impressed! I had picked out clothing we had that looked sufficiently “period”, late 1800’s. My lace collar that I wore over my blouse was crocheted by my Grandma Tauchen when they were in style in the 1980’s!
Dave greeted us warmly and invited us to the very studio where Bennett made the Dells famous in the 19th and 20th centuries. This is how the backdrop looks in color.
Behind the chairs are head braces to help you hold still while the picture is taken. This is a long exposure photo. The darker the studio, the longer the exposure. Since it was a bright sunny day, it only took 6 seconds.
Photographer Robert Squires was there too and documented our visit. Thanks for the great photo! He got a picture of Dave installing the prepared wet plate into the camera. It takes 3-minutes to get it camera-ready after exposure to the chemicals. There is no going back once it is preparing!
Dave graciously allowed us to shoot video of getting our photo “struck” so we could show everyone how it’s done! See it below.
We had a great time doing this amazing photo, and they said Al looked like a Civil War vet. We were sent a digital copy ahead of the photo that would be sent in the mail to us.
On August 1st we received our photo in the mail. It was varnished to help protect it from scratches. It was beautiful! On the back was David’s info about the photo.
Also some information on how the photo was made.
I already had a frame to put the photo into that looked good with it.
Don’t pass up your opportunity to get a tintype photo taken by David at THE H.H. Bennett Studio!
Nestled within the 102 4th Avenue Retail Center on the Baraboo Square is the International Clown Hall of Fame and Research Center. The museum’s Executive Director, Greg DeSanto, made this valuable resource a reality in Baraboo on May 21, 2010. He saved this museum, the artifacts were in storage for four years after it failed in Milwaukee. It originally was in Delavan, also a circus town. We met him on our visit, such a funny guy! Not surprising, since he is also a clown, along with his wife, Karen. Learn more about Greg here.
Since we were here for the Big Top Circus Parade, learning more about the history of clowns was a great addition to the day. We could tell by the festive appearance of the doorway it was going to be a fun visit!
Tours are conducted daily at 2:00 PM June through August.
Winter Hours: From September through May we are open by appointment only.
Admission: $8.00 Adults $5.00 Children Under 12
See our tour here, conducted by Toto Johnson in 2019.
Toto began the tour by introducing the three kinds of clowns.
Inside is a large room with displays dedicated to famous clown past and almost present. Displays change often as they got donations of artifacts.
On our visit in 2017, Sandy Weber conducted the tour. He also designed the beautiful signage you see throughout the museum. He covered topics like the clown’s roles in history and pointed out the artifacts from their performance days. Most artifacts have been donated by family members of each clown.
Toto Johnson was our guide in 2019, his anecdotes really made the tour special! He had the full attention of the kids on the tour! Toto is on the museum’s Board of Directors and his enthusiasm is contagious! In the photo, he’s telling the kids about the clown car and how as a young clown in the 1980s, he had to be the first one inside the car. The highest-ranked clown stayed outside, their role was to open and close the door! They never had to even had to get in. He worked for the Ringling Brothers in 1986, after graduation. Toto attended the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown Collegein 1985 and a documentary was made. The video plays on a screen at the museum.
Click to enlarge.
They also had a great exhibit for Happy the Clown, Jim Williams, formerly of Circus World Museum. I saw him perform there in 1980, my first visit to Circus World Museum. He passed away in 2015 at age 71 😦
Bobo‘s tiny clown car, I don’t know how he got in, he was about 6’3″. He kept that a secret! One good guess is that he began his circus career as a contortionist and used those skills here. Clowns are indeed athletes in makeup!
A short video of Bobo Barnett getting out of his car, complete with luggage and dogs. Amazing!
His daughter, Christiana Barnett-Murphy, has a YouTube channel with more video. She also wrote a book about her experiences of being this famous clown’s daughter.
Speaking of interesting clown vehicles, the bathtub car. It was driven during the Big Top Circus parade!
An important circus secret to preventing infection to cuts is Sea Breeze. Toto told us how they kept this on hand to keep cuts from getting infected.
We had a wonderful summer this year. We were having so much fun going to so many great events around Wisconsin we didn’t have time to write about it yet, let alone spring! Our South Dakota and Wyoming trip took us 4 months to write about we saw so much!
Meanwhile, enjoy our video of Summer 2017. More details coming later about what we did. We never run out of things to do in this great state!
Hot Springs, South Dakota is a city of 3,711 and is the county seat of Fall River County. We stayed there three nights with some friends, not downtown but in one of the nearby hills where their homestead is located. The countryside is beautiful, cattle ranches are a prevalent feature here. It was snowing in this picture.
Our friends took us on the grand tour, we saw everything on our list and more. We began with visiting John Robertson Memorial Park Cemetery. He was a prominent horticulturist and farmer in Fall River County.
After visiting here we learned why this is called the Veteran’s town. Our next stop was the South Dakota Veterans Home, a large beautiful building dedicated to caring for the many vets in Hot Springs. There is a large medical staff dedicated to the care of the residents here.
The Joe Kern Building-Soldiers Home
I have not seen a community honor vets as much as this one does. Inside the nursing home building near the entrance is a statue of a soldier. Inside the base is a time capsule, opening year is 2065.
Hot Spring’s downtown buildings are mostly made of sandstone, locally quarried at Evans Quarry. Read more about the stone’s use here. You saw some of these buildings at the Veterans Home also.
Here is the depot mentioned in the sign. The Soldiers Home is above.
This is the smallest union depot in the country. Here is the other signage on the depot.
Behind the depot is a train car.
Next to the depot is a small wood jail building serving the territory in 1885. It is the oldest surviving wooden jail in South Dakota.
The brown sign to the left of the door. Calamity Jane spent a night here too!
Enjoy a drive through downtown, nearly every building is constructed of pink sandstone.
The Fall River flows though the city, providing a soothing ambiance and view. There is even a waterfall along the Fall River Freedom Trail.
Kidney Spring has water deemed healthful for the kidneys. It flows freely from a spigot. A plaque gives a breakdown on the water analysis.
A retaining wall was built by the WPA in 1939. The view of it from the other side.
A great place to view downtown is at a lookout point on Hammond Avenue. It is a steep hill and about 1/2 way up. A great view of the Battle Mountain Sanitorium on the hill across the way.
There are more historical markers scattered throughout the city. This one is at the edge of town at a wayside on the Mammoth Highway, this is the front.
Another one is the Leslie Jensen Scenic Drive marker.
This small sign is attached below, telling us when he passed away.
Downtown is a Lions Club Memorial circle with a planter.
Closeup of the plaque on the monument.
This marker is near their former Carnegie Library building. A new and larger library with more parking was built and opened in 2007. Here is a list of all the Carnegie libraries in South Dakota.
If you look to your left, there is a steep hill leading to the Fall River Pioneer Museum. We could not go in since it was not open for the season yet.
On the northern edge of town is the Mammoth Site, where hundreds of Mammoth skeletons were discovered in 1974 while preparing the land for a housing development. The area was then protected and a very active dig still today. You can get a tour here and they offer programs for children and adults alike. There is a marker close to the driveway.
All this exploring can make one hungry. We enjoyed lunch at the China Buffet, a favorite downtown of the locals. For dinner we went to where our friend works, Taco John’s. Their food was yummy too!
The Hot Springs area has many beautiful parks for recreation, even a picnic!
We also took a closer look at the Fall River, namesake of the county Hot Springs resides in. We went to Keith Memorial Cascade Falls. It was so beautiful there, I imagine even more so later in the spring and summer. A marker is also located there.
There is a walkway leading down to a view of the falls, also a small chapel you can go in.
We finally made it to the Spam Museum, the last attraction at the conclusion of our Westward Ho! vacation. We arrived at 12:18 and left at 1:30. The people at the desk greet you with a friendly “Hello” and are ready to answer any questions you might have about Hormel’s popular canned meat.
There were many visitors today, enjoying the many interactive exhibits. Here are some highlights I filmed there.
As you can see, Spam cans take a ride above you on a conveyor belt. Someone put a camera up there so you can see what they see 🙂
Spam™ has played an important part in American history, including feeding the troops during WWII as well as people in other countries. One of them is Hawai’i, our 49th state. Spam™ is still a part of many recipes there. An exhibit also pays homage to the famous Spam™ skit on Monty Python’s Flying Circus. One of my favorites!
A Hormel delivery wagon.
Spam™ for every meal! Get your recipe ideas here at this console.
Plenty of signage teaching visitors the history of Spam and Hormel.
Stop at the gift shop before leaving, we got a Spam™ slicer. And yes, you can buy Spam here too, many flavors. We got a couple of these too.
This museum was great fun to visit and even though we were only here just over an hour, we could have spent even more time here. Come if you can and enjoy Spam™!
Even though the sky was still overcast, the hills were still breathtaking! There are many areas where you can pull over for an up-close view. We did just that several times. It’s a 24 mile drive to the other side.
Enjoy some of our favorite views.
Everyone sure looks small from the top of the parking lot!
This is certainly the most scenic road we have ever been on, next to the Iron Mountain Road. This is 1:26 PM and the clouds are beginning to thin, letting in more sunshine.
We found a sign talking about the journey to Wounded Knee, where we stopped on April 24.
At 1:44 PM we see this sign. Getting close to the end. We get back on I-90.
We stopped inside for a few minutes. Lots of gifts to choose from in the gift shop. You can even eat at the Cedar Pass Restaurant inside. We enjoyed chatting with the staff there about our visit to South Dakota and that we look forward to returning next year.
Our last stop in this area was the Badlands Ranch Store, also the site of a LARGE prairie dog town. We arrived here by 2:25 PM. Open since 1967, it has been a tourist destination for generations. We could not go in since it wasn’t open yet. The store is open during the busy season, from mid-May through mid-September. They sell unsalted peanuts so you can feed them.
One of the little critters greeted me, I didn’t have any peanuts unfortunately.
And the BEST part, take a selfie with their big groundhog, we did! Same pose too!
A great way to cap off our visit to the Badlands. The views are incredible and there is so much to see and do here.