Tag Archive | Rhinelander

Pioneer Park Historical Complex in Rhinelander


Pioneer Park Sign in Rhinelander

There is much to see in Rhinelander and this museum is a must-see if you only have one day.

The Pioneer Park Museum Complex is America’s oldest Logging Museum and was once an actual logging camp. It is only open from Memorial Day to Labor Day, closed Mondays except for open and end of the season.  During September, open Fridays and Saturdays.

Pioneer Park Historical Complex in Rhinelander WM

This is a self-guided tour, and upon arrival you are greeted by a docent and given a sheet describing each building and exhibit in order so you don’t miss anything. Page 1 and following exhibits.

Pioneer Museum Self-Guided Tour 1

Red's Sawmill  in Rhinelander

Rural School House in Rhinelander

The Civilian Conservation Corps provided jobs during the Depression in the 1930’s.  It also helped build the infrastructure of the National and State Parks throughout our country.

CCP Camp Building

The Fire Barn had a beautiful mural painted on two sides.

Fire Barn Mural in Rhinelander

Three trucks on the inside.

Fire Trucks in Barn

There was a teepee outside of the Fire Barn too. Here we are for scale.

Teepee and us in Rhinelander

Now we head to the Blacksmith Shop, very interesting! when you walk in they have a cross section of Wisconsin trees at the Nicolet National Forest on display.

Blacksmith Shop in Rhinelander museum

Trees in Niccolet National Forest in Wisconsin

Pioneer Museum Self-Guided Tour 2

Duke's Outboard Motor and Boating Museum in Rhinelander

In the main building are many treasures to be seen, some of them animated. We first see a logging camp setup for their dining room.

Logging Camp Dining Room in Rhinelander

As you can see up ahead, this is the door leading to the “captured” Hodag. Also a Hodag “roar” and a mini-sawmill model with moving figures inside. Also Hodag art.

Hodags at Rhinelander museum collage

I just heard the roar from the Hodag on the left. A docent at the museum will press a button to play  the roar.

The Model Sawmill is amazing, its 75 years old! It used to run on steam, now its electric.  Here is some information about the builder. Lets see it in action!

Model Sawmill Info at Rhinelander

This concludes Part 1 of the museum, the half on the right side of the complex.


Part 2 – The Railroad Museum

On the left side are all the railroad cars, the Rhinelander Depot and other artifacts of interest.  Click on pages to expand.

Pioneer Museum Self-Guided Tour 2Pioneer Museum Self-Guided Tour 3

First off is the Steam Hauler, which used to pull logs on a sleigh with ease. It helped cut down the cost of logging and wear and tear on horses!

Steam Hauler in Rhinelander

The Rhinelander Railroad Association has been involved here, and a fine job they have done! They also have a model railroad in the basement level of the depot. I hear the train now! This is simulated, the train is really stationary and does not give rides.

 If you want to ride a real steam train, you need to go to Laona to ride their Lumberjack Steam Train.  Its about 45 minutes west of Rhinelander.

Rhinelander Depot and #5 Engine

Number 5 Thunder Lake Locomotive in Rhinelander

The #5 Engine is still in the process of being restored.  The caboose has been completely restored by the Northwoods Woodworking Club.

Soo Caboose in Rhinelander

 We enjoyed getting the grand tour of the displays by a volunteer from RRA.  He first showed us the model railroad, filling the entire room. How impressive!

RRA Volunteer in RhinelanderModel Railroad at Rhinelander

There were many good displays on the top floor too, even a train stained glass window.

Train Stained Glass window

Depot Displays in Rhinelander

And the grand finalé, we recieved a tour of the car currently off limits to visitors, the “Thunder Lake Company Car”, or President’s Car. Our guide showed us the work still had to be done here, and the need for donations. $10,000 is the goal and there is still a LONG way to go. While you are there you can either put money in the donation box or send a check here.  Interior of car and restoration photos exclusive here.

Pioneer Park addressSave Rhinelander Railroad History

The President's Car in Rhinelander

Restoration in progress description Presidents car in Rhinelander

Thanks very much for showing us so much, you take pride in your work and it shows.  Now to wrap up our tour. here are a few more exhibits.  It was an enjoyable 2 1/2 hours of exploring and we learned a lot!

Pioneer Museum Self-Guided Tour 4

Other Exhibits at the Pioneer Museum

Near the entry take a picture with the hodag and/or a carving of Tom Skubal, a former CCC participant.

Hodag and Deacon's Seat Tom Skubal at Rhinelander

A great time to be had by people of all ages here, especially railroad enthusiasts.  Around the Corner With John McGivern was here in 2014.

Locomotive #5 and us

Rhinelander- Home of the Hodag

July 6 to 8, 2015

Rhinelander sign WMRhinelander Water Tower

Rhinelander is a city of almost 8,000 in Oneida Co. It’s also the county seat.  We have been wanting to come here for a long time, this gateway to the Northwoods of Wisconsin.  We also wanted to see the mythical creature, the Hodag.  It was “discovered” by Eugene Shepard in autumn of 1893. This is the famous picture that he used to prove it was real.  He showed the hodag at the first Oneida County fair in a dimly lit tent.  People were skeptical about this creature, but believed it just enough to run out of the tent screaming when Eugene made it move, marionette-style. The hodag is still part of Rhinelander mythos today, now turned from a scary monster to a cute mascot for the community.

hodag_capture in Rhinelander

The first place one should stop is the Chamber of Commerce, where you can take your picture with the Hodag and pick up area information. It is at 450 Kemp St. We did just that! Don’t worry, this one is tame and LOVES posing for pictures 🙂  There are many more scattered throughout town, we saw as many as we could. This is a sample, we counted about 20 but probably missed some. You can get Hodag souvenirs here too.

Hodag and us 1500x WM logo

Rhinelander Chamber of Commerce Gift Shop

Hodags downtown, such works of art!

Hodag Collage

This video is a good summary of Hodag lore.

Lets take a look at the historic downtown, it was filled with many beautiful buildings.

Historic Downtown Rhinelander sign

City Hall-1908/9

Rhinelander City Hall WM

 District Library-1898  This is an Andrew Carnegie library.

Rhinelander Library WM

The Merchants and Trust Building, the library was in a room there before the current building was built.

Merchants Trust Bank Building in Rhinelander WM

My favorite building is the Courthouse, beautiful day or night! This is the view shortly after sunrise, then 2 AM on July 8. The night is short there this time of year. The dome is Tiffany glass, VERY unusual. It glows green at night.

Rhinelander Courthouse day WM

Closeup of the glass panels within each square that makes up the dome.

Courthouse Dome closeup FB

And at night, my favorite!

Rhinelander Courthouse night WM

There are also historical markers on site.

First Rural Zoning Ordinance Marker In Rhinelander WM

Onieda County Pioneers marker in Rhinelander WM

This sounds strange, but we often make a cemetery one of our stops. We stopped at Forest Home Cemetery to see the sites of two notable people buried here. This cemetery is large and it was a challenge finding them.  The hardest one was Eugene Shepard,  the man who “found” the first Hodag in fall of 1893. For someone who is largely responsible for Rhinelander’s identity, his gravesite is very humble. Here it is, plus it’s coordinates.

Eugene S. Shepard Gravesite in Rhinelander

N45º 37.867′  W089º 23.912

The other gravesite is John W. Heisman, founder of the Heisman Trophy. His is even more humble, it’s a flat marker. This is how we found it. Look for the Donaldson large monument, it is in front of that.Donaldson monument at Forest Home Cemetery in Rhinelander

John Heissman grave and trophy in Rhinelander

N45º 37.867′   W089º 23.973


We also saw a Packer house on 224 Sutliff Ave.


Rhinelander also has two museums. The Rhinelander Historical Society Museum on 9 South Pelham St. was not open, despite the sign saying it was open when we arrived at 2 PM on a Tuesday.

Rhinelander Historical Society Museum WM

We were fortunate however to see the Rhinelander Logging Museum.  It is open from Memorial Day through Labor Day.  the museum is located at 135 South Stevens Street at Pioneer Park. See next post to read about our experience there 🙂

Pioneer Park Historical Complex in Rhinelander WM

We also had a great visit at Hodag Park, on the shores of Boom Lake. Here you will find the Hodag historical marker and several shelters and playground. There are also Hodag Water Shows in the summer.

Hodag Marker in Rhinelander

Hodag Park collage in Rhinelander

Rhinelander has many restaurants. We ate at two of them. We had a dinner and breakfast at the Friendship House on 2260 Lincoln St . They open early which was great for our busy day of exploring.  We were treated like regulars, the staff takes great pride in their work.  Our coffee cup never had the chance to get empty. Chris told us proudly he made the pies, you know we had to have a piece! Al and I shared a piece of Strawberry Cream. Selection changes daily.

Friendship House in Rhinelander

Friendship House Strawberry pie in Rhinelander

The other place is where “Around the Corner With John McGivern” visited, Joe’s Pasty Shop. We wanted a simple meal after spending Tuesday exploring all over town. The have four flavors ready-to-eat and many more you can bring home frozen ones to cook later.  Delicious! View John’s entire visit to Rhinelander last summer.

John McGivern pic at Joe's Pasty Shop

Joe's Pasty Shop in Rhinelasner

Joe's Pasty Shop Menu in Rhinelander

Joe's Pasty Shop Collagein Rhinelander

We stayed two nights at the Days Inn downtown, only a block from the courthouse which made my night photo of it a short walk away. The only drawback is there is not a free continental breakfast. It was a good excuse to go back to the Friendship House after a fine dinner there the night before.

Days Inn in Rhinelander

We didn’t get the chance to go to this, but the Hodag Country Festival held every July is probably their biggest event of the year.  In 2015 it was July 9-12. The local radio station Hodag Country 97.3 FM WHDG is your official source of information and even a webcam of the festival. They stream so you can listen anywhere, download their app too for your mobile device.  Their sister station is Hodag Legends 101.3 FM or 1240 AM WOBT.  Rhinelander’s Public Radio station is WXPR 91.7 FM.

WXPR 91.7 FM in Rhinelander

On our way out-of-town as we headed to Lac du Flambeau on July 8, we saw a caboose on the outskirts of town outside of Evergreen Acres. On our right as we headed north.

                N45º 41.535    W089º 30.457

Soo Caboose in Town of Newbold in Rhinelander

Thanks for the great time Rhinelander, we enjoyed our visit!

Keep Calm and Love Hodag selfie