Tag Archive | Underground Railroad

Paradise Lost – Find it in Milton


“History in Progress”

Milton signMilton logo

This was the first time we ever explored Milton, we passed through a couple times before but not looked around. Milton is a community of 5,600 in Rock County. Milton may be one community now, but before 1967 it was two. It was Milton and Milton Junction, where the train came through a few miles from Milton.  Both communities voted to become one in 1967. As a result, this unique community actually boasts having TWO downtowns. We enjoyed visiting them both.  Milton was founded in 1838 by settlers from New York,  Joseph Goodrich the first and he invested in much of the infrastructure of the former two towns. It was thought to be named after poet John Milton, who wrote Paradise Lost.
Our first stop was at the Chamber of Commerce to learn more about this unique community.

Milton WI Chamber of Commerce

We got a map and headed a mile away to explore their main downtown’s center of commerce, Merchant Row (street).

Merchant Row, Milton WI


Also nearby is the former feed mill from the 1850’s called the Old Junction Mill, now housing several shops.

Old Junction Mill in Milton WI

Buckaroo’s  BBQ was formerly Liberty Station depot. There was a fire there a couple years ago and does not appear to be open yet for business.

Buckaroo BBQ in Milton

 By this time it was lunch and we went to the Milton Family Restaurant just left of the former depot. The food is great there, you get a lot of food for your money. Service was friendly and outstanding too. We highly recommend eating there.

Milton Family Restaurant


After lunch we headed back to explore the other downtown on the east side.

Milton East side

This downtown area has a different character than the west side.  Just behind me from this view is a Splash Pad in Goodrich Park for the kids.

Splash Pad in Goodrich Park Milton


Milton even has a golf facility called Caddyshack just outside of downtown. It includes mini-golf and a restaurant.

Caddyshack Golf in Milton


We continued walking up the street to the Milton College Historic District. The college closed in 1982 but the the beautiful buildings still are being used by local businesses.

Milton College Collage

Milton Collage Collage 2

And now for the biggest attraction in Milton, The Milton House!  This is the famous home that Joseph Goodrich built and lived in with his family.  It is also the first poured grout building in the country, as well as the oldest one still surviving  (and thriving) today. That is not the only distinction of the Milton house, John Goodrich’s log cabin house was also one of designated 14 stops on the Underground Railroad, providing  a safe stop for slaves escaping from the South. One tunnel survives, we went through it on our tour.  We looked forward to our tour, they are given year-round.  Photos were prohibited inside the house, but you can in the lobby and the other buildings outside. The right side of the building as you can see is new, it was rebuilt thanks to some generous donations.

Milton House sign

Milton House

Milton House Markers

photo by Jon McGinty

photo by Jon McGinty

Slaves in Undergorund Railroad Tunnel in Milton

Painting by Nellie Daland


This painting by artist Nellie Daland  hanging near the tunnel entrance depicts slaves in hiding, but our tour guide told us this depiction is inaccurate. She said the tunnel would really only be about 3 feet high, and there would not be any small children or infants among the escaped. They had to keep perfectly silent in the tunnel or they would be heard.

Our guide took us through the tunnel, we thought about all the slaves that may have passed through this very tunnel, much lower and unlit. We came out on the other side, a stairway leading up to the inside of this small cabin, and this is the actual cabin! What a great tour!

John Goodrich cabin

 The grounds also had a few other buildings. The Stable, and it also had a marker.

The Stable

Storrs Lake Milton Marker

 Behind the stable is a little smokehouse and behind the Milton House is a small barn with carriages and other artifacts.


Carriage Barn at Milton House

Here is a recent interview  with more information about this fascinating part of Milton’s history.

Milton also has a great retreat and restaurant by Lake Koshkonong called the Lake House Inn.


Lake House Inn in Milton


 We had a great time and learned a lot in Milton.  Well worth the time to visit!

Related Articles

* Milton House in Need of Repairs – WKOW Madison, WI – Channel 27

* Janesville Gazette – Photo Gallery – March 9, 2009

* Milton Matters blog

* Lindagodfrey’s Blog

* Travel Wisconsin – Milton House


Middleton – The Good Neighbor City

Welcome to Middleton! This community of 18,000 is just west of Madison and has a lot to offer.  My husband and I spent several months exploring, it’s that big.  Let’s explore the city’s more humble beginnings.This sign is at Mendota County Park,  on the site was a fur-trading post in 1832. Harry Barnes, the town of Middleton’s first Postmaster, named it after a community in Vermont. The year was 1848 when it separated from the Town of Madison.

Mendota County park Mendota sign

Many historic buildings still stand and are still in use today.   Here you can learn about the many Landmarks in the city. The Stamm House has the proud distinction of being a way station  on the Underground Railroad.

Stamm House in Middleton Wisconsin

The Old Blacksmith Shop on 2645 Branch St.

Old Blacksmith Shop

Also on Branch St. is the Club Tavern or Ye Old Tavern,  a popular place still today.

The Club Tavern in Middleton WI

Downtown has a large number of historic buildings, housing great local businesses.   One of our favorites is The National Mustard Museum,  site of the Mustard Festival every first Saturday in August.

National Mustard Museum

Mustard Tasting

National Mustard Museum display

The former Opera House.

Opera House

Louisianne’s, Etc.  for great New Orleans’ style cuisine and sometimes live music, especially around Mardi Gras.  The Hubbard Ave Diner and Bakery also has great food.

Louisianne's Etc. in Middleton

Hubbard Avenue Diner and Bakery in Middleton

Railroad history remains in the downtown area. Here is the steam train water tower. Also the former Depot, now a visitor center and museum.

Train Water tower  Middleton Depot

The other historic Museum is in the Rowley Residence,  still owned by the family.

Rowley Residence Museum in Middleton WI

For great shopping and more dining, Greenway Station is nearby.

Greenway Station

One of the most interesting spots in Middleton is the historic Boathouse Association. It is a row of pretty little houses on the shore of Lake Mendota.

Middleton Boathouse Company plaque

Middleton Boathouse Company houses

It was impossible to get all of the boathouses in one shot, except in a boat  or on the ice in winter. Here are all the houses, taken in the winter of 2015.

Middleton Boat Houses frame

For a great getaway close to Madison, Middleton cuts the mustard!