Tag Archive | murals

Black River Falls – Deer Capitol of Wisconsin

Last Visit  – 7/25/04

10 years later….

9-15/16 – 14


Black River Falls means a lot to us, and it had been too long since our last visit. The last time here consisted of two scuba dives in mid-summer. This time we were here to explore the town and  discover more of the history of this friendly community.  It is located in Jackson county and is the county seat as well. Jackson County is cranberry country, and we went by many bogs as we traveled here after a brief stop in Wisconsin Rapids. Also saw a historic marker.

Branberry Culture marker in Jackson County

Jackson County is also home of the rare Karner Blue butterfly, and Black River Falls has a Karner Blue Festival every July. If you travel south Black River Falls on I-94 E, take exit 53 to see a historic marker on “Sphagnum Moss” and the Winnebago Indians (Ho-Chunk), the most prominent tribe in Central Wisconsin. Also a sign about the Karner Blue, it was badly damaged by water and hard to read. And a sign about “The Barrens”, describing the landscape of the area.

Sphagnum Moss Marker in Jackson CounttyWinnebago Indian marker in Jackson County

Barrens sign in Jackson County

Karner Blue sign in Millston


We reach Black River Falls as we continue up 94, you see the sign “Black River Crossing” (Oasis) and a view of the Best Western Arrowhead Lodge with a pond. You can take your picture with a big Orange Moose and mouse with cheese here (top photo). They are accessible from the parking lot at the oasis. Also a leaping deer.

Black River Crossing sign in Black river Falls

Arrowhead Lodge in Black River Falls


Another smaller moose leading to the hotel, where the Orange Moose Bar and Grill is.

Smaller Orage Moose in Black River Falls

In this area is also The Mocha Mouse, a coffee house that also has Wisconsin gifts to remember your visit here.

The Mocha Mouse in Black River Falls


We continue up the driveway and turn left, heading toward downtown. We go past the Pilot Flying J  Travel Plaza, another place we enjoyed stopping at in the past. Ten years ago they had their own restaurant called The Cookery, it has since been converted into a Denny’s. We used to enjoy a great buffet there back then. We didn’t eat there this time. We ate lunch at the Norske Nook in Osseo, a favorite of mine for over 25 years.  I introduced Al to this restaurant over 10 years ago and he loves it too!

Flying J in Black River Falls

Let’s head downtown to see the sights.

Black River Falls downtown sign

Let’s head downtown, crossing the Black River bridge, to our right is the dam, generating power for the community. It was completely rebuilt  by 2010.

Back River Falls Dam


Our visit downtown had many nice stores and the lamp poles had flower baskets hanging from them.

Black River Falls downtown

We turned right after crossing on the historic 1924 bridge and went to the Chamber of Commerce to get more publications on the area. The staff there are happy to answer your questions.

Black River Falls Chamber ofCommerce


Across from the Chamber is a monument marking the site of the sawmill near the power plant.

Sawmill Monument in Black River Falls

Sawmill plaque in Black River Falls

Back downtown was noticed how well kept the buildings are and there were even murals on the sides of many of the building walls. They profiled BRF early history. Here are a couple of them.

Black River Falls Dam Mural

Black River Falls Players theater mural

Our favorite place downtown was The Merchant General Store. You felt like you were walking into an 1800’s General Store.  It housed the original general store in 1912! We really had a lot of fun here looking around at candy we enjoyed as kids, also toys. Even a corner by the stove to play checkers, just like the old days. The basement level has antiques and more knickknacks. We got a vintage potato ricer and mug rack.  We recommend any visitor stop here 🙂

The Merchant General Store


Checkers Corner at The Merchant in Black River Falls

Other historic buildings downtown. This used to be Union High School, now an apartment building.

Former Union High School in Black River Falls

Former First National Bank building, now Rural Mutual Insurance.

Former First National Bank in Black River Falls

Mary J’s, an interesting building.

Mary J's Clothing building in Black River Falls

Moe’s Hardware Hank

Moe's Hardware in Black River Falls

It was getting late and we were tired, so we headed to where we were staying for the night, the Fall’s Motel. We had stayed there once before in 1999. In the morning we had a free breakfast there and it only cost $60 for the night.

Fall's Motel in Black River Falls

Our last stop before heading home, our favorite deep lake for scuba diving, Lake Wazee. A former quarry, it is the deepest inland lake in Wisconsin and even has a shallow beach at one end. We have dove as deep as 100 feet here, the max depth is 355 feet. Tech diver students from all around come here for training. Keith Cormican of the Wazee Sports Center has the certification to provide this training. We have known him since 2000, when we made our first dives here.

Wazee Sports Center in Black River Falls

lake Wazee in Black River Falls

This concludes our visit to Black River Falls, we enjoyed seeing the old sights and plan on coming back to dive next year after getting back in shape again. One last look at the Black River Crossing sign, we will be back orange Moose!


Greetings from Black River Falls



Home Sweet Homewood – Illinois

Illinois Trip – Day 3 – April 23, 2014

Homewood Illinois sign

Our last destination, Homewood is a village of over 19,000, just 23 miles from Chicago.   What piqued our interest here were the new murals by artist Richard Haas, the same artist who did the mural in Madison back in the 1980’s. We had to see them! See complete listing of mural locations here. It is the largest collection of his murals in one place in the world! Let’s take a look.

Richard Haas Homewood Mural

Richard Haas Mural 2 Homewood

Nelson's Bakery mural Richard Haas Homewood

Dixie Service Garage mural Richard Haas

There were more interesting things to see in Homewood also.  This is the Henry Gottschalk House, built in 1893.  His business in Homewood was brick making, and it was built of his own bricks.  The had “Homewood” stamped on them. Here  is Henry on horseback in front of his brickyard.


Henry Gottschalk House - Homewood, IL

Henry Gottschalk home plaque

Trains are also important here. In addition to freight trains, Amtrak and Metra trains are available.  In fact, I saw a lady running for the Metra which was just arriving 🙂

Late For The Train

The train station itself is a historic, possibly the only Spanish-style one in the Mid-west. They also have a Rail Fan Park here, like Park Forest does.

Homewood Train Station

 On this side is a Illinois Central orange Caboose on display. Also an engine.

Illinois Central Caboose


Illinois Central engine

There is a tunnel underground leading to this train station, there are pictures on  the walls a little more interesting.

Homewood Depot portrait

On the other side is a viewing platform with a great view of all the tracks.

Homewood Rail Fan viewing platform

Train platform view

One of the major roads going through Homewood is the Dixie Highway, and there is a marker downtown in Independence Park.

We had a great visit in Homewood and hope to come back to see more.

Homewood Water tower


Say Cheese in Plymouth, WI

6-29 and July 1, 2012

On June 29 and July 1, 2012 we stopped in Plymouth on the way to Manitowoc for our early summer visit. On the way, we encountered a historical building, The Wade House.

Wade House_6-30 081

Wade House sign_6-30 028

It wasn’t open to visitors at the time  we came through so we went on to Plymouth which wasn’t far from there.  Cheese has been an important part of Plymouth since the town’s founding.  After entering town you are greeted by Antoinette the cow towering above this sign outlining the town’s history and the importance of cheese making here.

Plymouthexitsign_6-30 085Antoinette the Cow_6-30 106

Cowdisplay6-30 1626

It was Friday night and we ate at a restaurant close to this sign,  Antoinettes. Wonderful food there, we had broasted chicken with sweet potato fries, yum!.

Antoinettes_6-30 122BroastedChix_6-30 129

We had more time to explore on July 1, time to walk downtown on historic Mill Street. There were many beautiful murals painted on the sides of the buildings.

MillSt_6-30 1640MillSt_6-30 1661

CheeseExchange_6-30 1690HiHo_6-30 1862

Sargento_6-30 1809

At the end of the street is Veterans Memorial Park.  The Mullet River was busy with kids fishing, it was a hot summer day.

MulletRiver_6-30 1740clock_6-30 1723

VetsPark_6-30 1756

We had a great time in Plymouth, join us at Antoinettes for a great meal and sightseeing!

AlandLaurie_6-30 1872


Related Sites

*  Chamber of Commerce

* Plymouth Historical Society