"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 :)
After being Yoopers for a Day, we arrived in Crivitz, WI at about 7:30 PM on the 24th. We are here since this is the place where Al has memories. His family used to have a cabin on Lake Noquebay when he was young and he wanted to see what the town looked like over 40 years later. Crivitz recreation and a visitor guide can be found here. See here also.
Crivitz is also well known for their large July 4th celebration. Enjoy their fireworks display!
We turned in and were greeted with a beautiful sunrise the next morning just before 6:30.
After taking pictures at the waterfall sign, we had breakfast at the restaurant behind the sign, Charlie’s Island Café. Great food and they open early! We had breakfast there the next morning too, they have a yummy buffet.
It was time to explore the town. Right after breakfast we went to take a look at an abandoned farmhouse called “The Gingerbread House” just outside of town. Apparently it is a photo subject the locals visit often. We had a beautiful clear sky that morning and it made a beautiful backdrop.
An abandoned car on the property nearly overgrown.
Let’s see some of the businesses in downtown Crivitz. See a list of other businesses here. Here is Soup to Nuts.
We left Crivitz for a little while and went to nearby Peshtigo to see the Peshtigo Fire Museum since that was also open that day. We grabbed lunch at the Crivitz BP, they even had some tables to sit at inside.
We stayed at the Capri Motel. The room was nice and clean and large. A word of warning though, bring plenty of cash if you stay here, their Paypal® connection was down and we had to pay $100 in cash for two nights.
We sure had fun exploring the museum, good work Crivitz-Stephenson Historical Society! It was time to head to Lake Noquebay Park on the south end of the lake. It costs $3.00 for the day here. Went down to the shore and saw a lot of activity on the water on this warm summer afternoon. Summer is fun here! It has changed a lot in 40 years though, the now Timberline Resort has grown in size and Al did not recognize it from his memories.
After we enjoyed taking in the view on the lake we enjoyed dinner lakeside at the Timberline Bar and Grill. They had delicious seafood and I had shrimp, Al had Taco Salad.
This concludes our one day exploring Crivitz. We learned a lot about the area and it was interesting to Al all the changes that have happened over the years.
We finished our day in Mackinaw City by exploring The Icebreaker Mackinaw, a decommissioned Coast Guard ship built to keep an open waterway in the winter. It is open May through early October, admission is $11 for adults, ages 6-17 are $6. Get your tickets at the end of the pier in the ticket building. It looks like a buoy. There is also a ship propeller on display. The marker above is also nearby.
We began our walk towards the ship, there were informational signs along the way.
Al served in the Navy in the 1980’s, and he informed me that rank and decorations for service are the same in Coast Guard. Al showed me the decoration he earned during his years of service.
We approach the gangway and are welcomed aboard. The staff are friendly and are there to answer any questions you might have.
We began with an orientation before our self-guided tour. We saw a short film about the ship and it’s important role keeping the seaways open during WW II and after. The citizens of Mackinaw City didn’t want this ship to be sitting in a scrapyard after it was decommissioned. They banded together and purchased the ship and converted it into a maritime museum. We are so glad they did! The way between levels are essentially ladders, watch your step!
The Ward Room
Chief Petty Officer Mess
1st Class Petty Officer’s Lounge
Berthing Crew Quarters for the Women Crew Members
Watch your step!
If this ship were operating, you would get a pair of ear plugs before entering the Engine Room, our next stop. Jim told us about how the engine worked.
The engine room was impressive even silent, we could imagine the power it would have running. We went back up the ladder to the Main Deck again. The route is clearly marked with arrowed signs. Saw this plaque commemorating 50 years of ice breaking on the wall. Congratulations on a half-century of fine service to the fleet!
Since I am a cook, the galley was of particular interest to me. I took a picture through the plexiglass. There was a small monitor with a video describing kitchen operations. One of the docents answering people’s questions in this area offered to take me inside the kitchen, thanks! This kitchen is bigger than I expected for being on board a ship, very impressive!
After the galley went out to the deck. we are looking to the former Railroad Dock area of the marina. On shore is a marker describing it.
Now we enter the Enlisted Crew area.
Executive Officer Office
Now we head upstairs to the deck and Pilot House. What a great view up here!
And now the view from the deck! Ferries, freighters and parasailing all at the same time. This is a very busy place in the summer!
Our tour is at a conclusion. Allow yourself at least 2 hours to explore the ship, and be sure to pick a memento at the Ship Store. If you don’t have time to take the tour, you can still stop in the store.
We highly recommend coming here for the tour. We learned a lot and had a great time. It’s not every day you get to see the inside of a Coast Guard Icebreaker.
The Icebreaker Mackinaw is in need of a complete repainting to preserve the hull. A Gofundme
account has been set up for donations. Please help if you can!
The Village of Redgranite is located in Waushara County and home to 2,149 residents. This community has the proud distinction of once having been the state’s main source of Red Granite and became its namesake. Learn more about the village history here. Now, the community best known for its patriotism and probably the biggest Labor Day celebration in the county.
We will begin our exploration. In the center of downtown is Veteran’s Memorial Park where a monument of red granite proudly stands. Also one dedicated to all veterans of the community. The Labor Day celebration takes place in this park too.
There is a village water pump, dedicated in 2012. You can buy a brick lining the edge with the engraving of your choice. There was once a three-story yellow schoolhouse on the site of this park.
Also a Lions Club Concession building with a beautiful mural inside depicting the quarry in operation. I joined all the sides together and made it flat.
King Memorial Park on the corner of Hwy. 73 and Foster St. has a gazebo and Free Little Library. A church used to stand here before a fire destroyed it in 1986. The land was donated by the Bannerman Granite Company in 1904.
Speaking of Bannerman, enjoy a ride on the 7 mile long Bannerman Trail, formerly a railroad track for Chicago and Northwestern.
Redgranite has many businesses to serve you. On the west side is Lucassen’s Sentry grocery store. We remember it was once a Piggly Wiggly in the early 2000’s. It officially Became a Sentry on March 15, 2016.
The original Village Hall building next to Lambeau Lanes, currently vacant. The new building is behind it
A former business in town, in 1998. A pickle factory.
We have now reached the famous quarry that made this community in the late 19th century. Here is an aerial photo, Google Earth.
It has changed a lot in the 11 years since our last visit. Most of the trees surrounding the quarry in the late 1990s are now gone and the trash has been cleaned up.
We used to scuba dive in the quarry. I shot video of one our dives back in 1998. We found a lawn chair, boat, and snowmobile on the bottom. I hear there is a school bus on the bottom too.
If you decide to go into the quarry to swim or dive, please take caution. It can be a dangerous place, three people have drowned there in 2015 alone. The water is always cold at depth and it may be as much as 210 feet deep. We stayed under 40 feet and had a great time 🙂
Here is then and now, similar vantage point.
Another current view, including the platform left from the mining days.
The ruins of a building that was part of the quarry operation.
We were back on 9-30-16 to see fall color at the quarry, beautiful!
We explored the west side of it this time since we missed that on our April visit. We went into the woods and made a new discovery, more remnants of the former mining operation! We found this concrete structure, similar to the one on the other side!
Al stood next to it for scale, he is 6’3″. It appears to be almost 18 feet high.
Behind this was more to see, three concrete “walls” with doorway cutouts on one end. They were hard to photograph because the are closely surrounded by forest overgrowth.
Here is a side view of one of the walls.
Also back there was what appeared to to the remnant of a track where perhaps small cars were leaded with granite that went to the quarry edge. Just guessing of course.
And the best artifact of all! We found a brick mostly buried in the dirt near here. We extracted it. The brick was manufactured by Langenberg Brick Manufacturing Co. in Stevens Point around 1900 approximately. Here is a historic photo of the brickyard.
State Historical Society
Excerpts about the brick company found in Google Books from 100 years ago.
Their bricks also built the former insane asylum in Marshfield, long since demolished. Learn more about this industry here.
Redgranite’s website is very helpful, it has a map of the village pointing out the historical buildings. We used that to help us find them, a great guide!
A word of warning, if you take a picture of the “House of 7 Gables” on 403 Foster Rd, you do it at your own risk. The lady of the house threatened to call the police if you take a picture her house, even though it is legal if you don’t take the picture on the owner’s property. I will respect her wishes and it won’t be published here.
The first house built after the quarry business began. It was built in 1894-5.
The Bannerman House on 313 Foster Rd. is where the quarry owner Hedley Bannerman lived.
On 414 Foster is the Pickett Fence House, there are 1300 pickets in total.
This is old Water Street Jail, built around 1900.
St. Mark’s Catholic Church was originally made of wood and built in 1906. The building was replaced in 1960 and made of stone, the rectory is especially colorful. The prevalence of quarries in the area means many houses and businesses made use of this stone.
This building is bigger than it looks, and there were plenty of displays in the hall area. The ticket booths looked like little train ticket counters, cute!
Trains were the main exhibits here, but there was one that stood out from the crowd. There was an exhibit dedicated to the Late ore freighter Edmund Fitzgerald that sank on November 10, 1975. There was even a ship bell that kids had fun ringing. Jim Ferguson ran this exhibit.
Let’s hear the bell!
We went inside and were amazed by the sheer volumes of trains of all sizes. The smallest trains were the size of a glue stick to ones large enough to give people rides. There were two of those! Here is a sample of all of this activity.
Another place we have been to represented here was the North Freedom Mid-Continent Railway Museum. We have enjoyed two rides on their full-sized train, lots of fun! See more about our visits here. The Autumn train ride is especially exciting.
The last time I attended this event was in 2013, so it was time to see it again. This time Al joined me. Admission is $5 for adults, $3.00 for kids 3-12. Since we joined during Olbrich Botanical Garden’sGLEAM event in the fall, we had free entry! The inside of the building was so festive, with many poinsettia plants, some of which are for sale. Memberships are also 50% off during this special event.
We headed down the walkway to the Christmas display, showing our membership card for admittance and hand-stamped.
Greeting us with a train whistle and an “All Aboard!”, Olbrich volunteer Judy warmly greeted us and had information about upcoming events.
A different train is on the left side, and “Iron Horse” steam engine.
Let’s see them in action!
Two members of the Railway Society were there, Dick Jellings and his wife Elaine. For over 20 years he wore the Colonel Corn costume at the Sun Prairie Corn Fest. Now retired, he enjoys model trains and showing them to the public. They will be part of the upcoming Mad City Model Railroad Show and Sale on Feb 20-21, 2016. We plan on going to this fun event!
The LEGO™ displays were quite impressive. Star Wars fever was rampant even here, with a rebel base display called “Home One”.
Winter Street Scene
In the Bolz Conservatory, the CHOCOLATE: THE BITTER AND THE SWEET exhibit had Cacao trees on display and signs describing the history of chocolate and uses over the millennia.
A small Cacao tree and pod.
Purity of chocolate, white “chocolate” is not chocolate at all!
Some of the displays.
We had a great visit to Olbrich and we look forward to returning to their other events in the next year. We highly recommend becoming a member. They get many special benefits, including a discount in their gift shop.
Due to a warm September, the colors peaked a week or so later than usual. Our first trip was to Holy Hill Basilica on Monday, October 12. We have not been there during fall’s peak before. It was Columbus Day so it was quite crowded when we arrived around noon. Holy Hill offers a great view anytime you go. Be sure you pick a good weather day, since they close the tower if there are high winds or other inclement weather.
We climbed up the 128 stairs to the top of the right steeple to take in the countryside colors. They were brilliant!
It was just as beautiful from the bottom looking up. We found an especially good view with a horse in someone’s yard.
And the view from Erin, we got both points of view here!
A stand of beautiful trees to the right of this view on the road below.
We saw the historic Messer/Mayer Mill. They are raising funds for restoration of the mill.
Other views in the park.
We were in Jefferson for a wedding photo shoot but came early to get some fall color pictures. They have some beautiful trees and views here. This is the river from the bridge.
The view on the right side of the bridge, Rotary Park.
Downtown the tree by the clock was looking especially pretty, it was barely leafing out when we visited in May.
There are many beautiful houses in Jefferson, many of them with beautiful trees setting them off in a blaze of yellow and orange. Some had ivy too, adding a special touch.
Finished up the month with color at my workplace grounds and near our home.
Our neighborhood looked especially pretty this year. Our red maple was really showing off (the one on the left)! A couple leaves were not so happy about the end of summer.
My favorite view was at the train track that goes by our condo community. The colors were peaking the day I got a picture of the Canada Pacific train that runs from Portage to Madison. Here is some video of that train in Portage.
Quite a beautiful and long autumn this year. One for the books!
We crossed the bridge from Minnesota to Wisconsin from the Minnesota Great River Road and soon we were in Pepin. This railroad community is a village of 837 on the shores of Lake Pepin (which is really a wide part of the Mississippi River) has many friendly people that we met and enjoyed talking to. Pepin’s most famous residents were Laura Ingalls Wilder and her family in the late 1860’s-early 1870’s. Her first book “Little House in the Big Woods” takes place here.
We first had lunch at the open-air Garden Pub and Grille. What a friendly and fun place! Just bundle up when the weather is cool.
After lunch we went back to the 1870’s with a visit to the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum. She was born in this community in 1867 and they have never forgotten it. The 2nd weekend in September the town has a Laura Ingalls Wilder Days festival, we had just missed it. Here is a video of the festival from 2012.
In front of the museum is a group of pavers engraved with names of people who donated to support it. Pave the Way is the name of their fundraiser and you can donate here.
We went in and saw a great many displays depicting life in 1800’s. In the transportation room was a steamboat model that kids could go to the top and pretend to steer it. Boats were especially important for commerce before the railroad came.
Also a covered wagon which families traveled in as they settled the country. The first mobile home!
Also fishing boats and tackle used in the late 1800’s. Laura’s father caught fish on Lake Pepin to provide for their family.
There was also a pearl button industry here too before the invention of plastic.
Just behind the Transportation room is the One-Room School room.
The TV in the corner plays a slideshow of what Pepin was like when Laura lived there. It show photos of her parents Charles and Caroline (who originally from Brookfield, WI!) Also Grace, Mary and Laura (L-R).
On the other side of the building were the home life displays and a few family artifacts or friends of the family. Most were contributed by residents in the Pepin community.
Featured is a coverlet similar to one Almanzo Wilder’s mother might have made on her loom. Also on this table is a tin lantern similar to what Ma (Caroline Ingalls) used when she went out into the winter night and confronted a bear!
There was also a kitchen display at the museum too.
A sign about Laura in the museum.
We had a great visit here, it’s worth it to get a gift from their large gift shop. I got this stoneware mug made by Deneen Pottery in St. Paul. What a great memento of our visit here!
This wasn’t all in Pepin to see. A little further down the road from here is the historic depot and marker dedicated to Laura. It was an actual depot in Pepin, now its a museum. It wasn’t open when we stopped by though.
Here there was also a marker and anchor honoring steamboat captain Phil Scheckel.
We also took a look at some of the businesses near the Pepin Marina not far from the museum. A row of wheel rims made for a nice frame of their downtown. Also this sign.
Paul and Fran’s Grocery, LLC reminded me of an old-time general store. The one we really enjoyed visiting was the shop next to it, T. & C. Latané. They specialize in custom-work in wrought iron, tin and wood. You don’t see many places like that anymore. Learn more from another visitor here.
The ambiance was just as warm inside, including the owners Tom and Catherine. It turns out she also narrated the slide show we saw at the Laura museum too! Stop in if you would like quality work done by people, not a machine. I got a squirrel cookie cutter, you don’t find those everywhere!
We had to take a look at the Marina too. Train tracks cross the marina entrance, there was a lot of train activity today. You could look across the river and see the cars on the Minnesota side.
You could see darker clouds approaching and knew the rain was about to return. We made our way north to the final Pepin point of interest, the wayside making the cabin location where Laura was born. There is a marker there also. The rain had also started by the time we arrived.
You could go inside too.
We take our leave of the Little House at the wayside steeped in the history of this community that played a part in the experiences of our favorite pioneer lady, Laura Ingalls Wilder! After we got back on the Great River Road, we saw a Lake Pepin marker.