Tag Archive | Lake Mills

Lake Mills Knickerbocker Ice Festival


Lake Mills sign

2016-Poster Knickerbocker Festival

This was the first time Al and I went to the Knickerbocker Ice Festival in Lake Mills.  We started the fun at Rock Lake by taking a look at Icehenge, a take-off of Stonehenge. We made the mistake of not stopping by right after they finished it in late January, the warm weather over the last 5 days took its toll. Read more about it here.

Ice Henge text IMG_1720

The Fisheree was going on too, somebody was drilling a hole in the ice nearby to fish in. We found a cute fishing shack downtown promoting the Fisheree.

Ice Fisheree Shack

Ice Fisherman IMG_1712

Ice Fishermen at Lake Mills IMG_1710

After visiting Icehenge we went downtown to the square (actually a triangle) to see all the activity going on there.  We could hear the sound of multiple chainsaws as the ice sculptors were making their creations. Lets watch them!

We enjoyed a great lunch at Cafe On the Park, under new ownership as of 2015. They are open 6-2 daily. Al had a prime rib sandwich and I had a breaded chicken sandwich. Delicious!

Cafe on the Park in Lake Mills

Cafe on the Park inside IMG_1818

The park sure was busy by 12:30!

Commons Park gazebo

There was a big ice skating party going on in the park, small children were being pushed in chairs.

Ice Skating party in Lake Mills

There was also target practice with tennis balls for safety. Also to aid the kids to throw snowballs with greater accuracy  🙂

Target Practice IMG_1880

Some other kids were building a wood castle, complete with flags.

Building a castle IMG_1883

It was now 1:00, and it looks like most of the ice sculptures were getting finished. My personal favorite 3 carvings.

Favorite Ice Carvings

The Lewis carving even had little wine bottles, cute!

Ice Wine bottle in Lake Mills

The Eskimo was especially fun, since this one was interactive and we could take a fun selfie with it.

Eskimo Ice Carving selfie

Other ice sculptures of note.

Knickerbocker Ice Sculptures Collage

We had a wonderful time at this festival and got further reinforcement that Wisconsinites love festivals in any setting the whole year around.

I Love Lake Mills

Aztalan State Park

10-6-12 and 5-16-14

Aztalan State Park is just down the road from the Museum, and is the site of the historic Indian settlement 900-1200 years ago.

Aztalan Markers

Aztalan Historic Landmark

Aztalan Mound Park plaque

From the parking lot entrance you could see the long stockade, a recreation of the original one protecting the village. Trails lead you from each site within the park.

Aztalan stockade

We drove down to the further lot near a 2nd stockade and the Crawfish river, a major waterway in the area. It looks especially pretty in fall.

Aztalan 2nd stockade


Crawfish River in autumn


Near the lot was a machine powered by a crank with two recordings about Aztalan’s history. Lets listen!

People of Aztalan


Just up from the Turn-and-Learn machine is the large prominent mound dominating the landscape. Religious ceremonies took place here. The stockade obscured the ceremonies from view.

Aztalan Large Mound

Aztalan Earthen Mound


From the top of the mound you could see all over the park, this view is towards the Crawfish River.


Aztalan Earthen Mound view

We had a good time here on both of our visits in spring and fall.  A peaceful place with a rich history. Combine visiting this park and the nearby museum in the same trip, both complement each other.

Lake Mills in Spring


Lake Mills sign

We had a great visit to Lake Mills in February and decided to come back in May when it was warmer. We also came on a Friday, which is important also. From May to early October, the American Legion in Lake Mills sells their locally famous hamburger they call “sliders” (not to be confused with White Castle’s mini-burgers).  These are made with locally- sourced beef, from Glenn’s  Market in nearby Watertown.  Their stand is located downtown, and it sure got busy at times.

American Legion Burger Stand

We also further explored Lake Mills, it sure is pretty there in the spring!

Commons Park in Lake Mills

The beautiful L.D. Fargo Library. 120 East Madison St.

L.D. Fargo Library

Also the nearby Fargo Mansion Inn Bed and Breakfast, just as beautiful.  406 Mulberry – 1881

Fargo Mansion Inn

Other historic buildings. At the Chamber of Commerce or Library, you can purchase the booklet, Historic Homes of Lake Mills – Five Walking Tours for $5.00. We got one. Here is a sample from Walking Tour #4.

422 Mulberry – 1877

Historic house in Lake Mills

409 Mulberry Street  – 1853

409 Mulberry St.- 1853


Here is a map from the booklet, sponsored by the Lake Mills Aztalan Historical Society. We thank them for their contribution, as well as all others involved in the production of this book. It also includes the historical context of each home and building. We plan on seeing more on our next visit.

Lake Mills Walking Tour Map

Not every historic home is listed on the tour list.  This pretty stucco on 144 West Oak Street caught our eye, and it’s for sale! Wish we can get it! It’s a colonial revival built in 1900. Quite a nice place.

144 West Oak Street - Lake Mills


We had a great visit in Lake Mills. We now were going to Aztalan, they are now open for the summer season!

Legendary Lake Mills – City of the Pyramids

11-18-12 & 2-18-14 & 2-6-16

Lake Mills sign

We have made two visits to Lake Mills so far.  We returned on May 16, 2014 when the historic site Aztalan reopened for the summer season.  Lake Mills is so interesting, one visit is not enough.   It is a community of 5,708 in Jefferson county 25 miles east of Madison.

Recreation abounds in Lake Mills. The Glacial Drumlin Trail goes through the south end of town, right by the former depot.

Lake Mills WI Depot

Many former train routes were converted to recreation trails in Wisconsin, this being one of them.  Two years ago we rode our tandem bike on this trail.  You can buy trail passes at the depot when it is open.

Glacial Drumlin Trail

Here is a sign we saw on the trail. You could see a drumlin from a trail, formed when the glacier was here.

Drumlin sign


On this 2nd visit, we explored more of the downtown area.  In the Center of town is a triangle-shaped gathering place called Commons Park, complete with a large gazebo in the center.  Many festivals take place here.

Commons Park gazebo

We had missed the Knickerbocker Ice festival in the beginning of February. Part of the festival included ice carvings. They were still around almost three weeks later because it has been such a cold winter. This day though was the first of 3 days around 40 so they were melting now. Here is an ice flower.

Lake Mills Ice Flower

Many historic buildings surround  Commons park. The Greenwood State Bank building.

Greenwood State Bank in Lake Mills

The L.D.  Fargo building, now the city library.

The L.D. Fargo Library

The former Opera House, now the Opera Hall Antique Center.

Opera Hall Antique Center

The other side of the Commons has quite a colorful row of buildings.

Downtown Lake Mills

The third building on the left is Timber Creek Pizza Company. We had ice cream there  (made by Mullen’s in Watertown) after a burger at Sportsman’s Pub on the Park. Another popular restaurant is Carp’s Landing. It is now closed 11-12-17.

Timber Creek Pizza CompanySportsman's Pub on the Park


Carp's Landing

Lake Mills residents and visitors from miles around stop in town on Fridays only from May-Oct for the American Legion’s famous Slider Hamburgers.  We will try them for ourselves come this May when we return.

American Legion Slider Stand

Two buildings down from  Timber Creek is Ephraim Faience Pottery, a place to get upscale handmade pottery to decorate your home.

Ephraim Pottery

A new store just opened called Calamity Jane’s, just off the Commons. We have to check that out sometime.

Calamity Jane's in Lake Mills

Get great honey products here at the Lake Mills Farmers Market. Doug and Yvette Jenks are bee keepers that are happy to serve you!

Honey and Bees Wax Products 20160306_103418

Lake Mills is continuing to beautify their downtown, now adding murals.  This one was painted last year by Grant Mahr, then a student at Lake Mills High School.  Read more about it here. He did a great job, I hope he does more work like this in the future!

Lake Mills Mural 2013

A new Veteran’s Mural was painted in 2014 by artist Joe Kiefer. You can find it on the side of the Shopko Pharmacy building downtown.

New Lake Mills Veterans Mural painted in 2014

Now for the BIG reason why Lake Mills is legendary.  We stopped at Tyranena Park on the north end of Lake Mills, which goes right down to Rock Lake.  Tyranena means, “Sparkling Waters”.  The legend is, Native Americans that lived on the shore of Rock Lake suffered a terrible drought that dried up most of the lake.  It is said they built stone pyramids and offered sacrifices to them.  The rains returned, so much so that the they were submerged in the replenished lake.  They have never been found by divers YET, but the search continues to this day.

Tyranena Park entrance

Rock Lake ice shanties

At this time of year, it is frozen solid with ice fishing shanties dotting the surface.

Nearby the lake is the Motel Pyramid if you are staying longer than a day. It closed winter 2016. 

Motel Pyramid in Lake Mills

2017-Now a Culver’s stands in this spot.

Culver's in Lake Mills-used to be Pyramid Hotel IMG_3868


We loved our visits to Lake Mills and look forward to returning in the spring when it really gets busy here.

I Love Lake Mills

Related Articles and Sites

* Chamber of Commerce

* Lake Mills Main Street Program

* Aztalan Museum

* Pyramid Motel

* Scott Wolter Answers – America Unearthed: The Underwater Pyramids