July 6 to 8, 2015
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.
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.
Hodags downtown, such works of art!
This video is a good summary of Hodag lore.
Lets take a look at the historic downtown, it was filled with many beautiful buildings.
District Library-1898 This is an Andrew Carnegie library.
The Merchants and Trust Building, the library was in a room there before the current building was built.
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.
Closeup of the glass panels within each square that makes up the dome.
And at night, my favorite!
There are also historical markers on site.
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.
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.
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.
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 🙂
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Thanks for the great time Rhinelander, we enjoyed our visit!